« 上一页继续 »
Having disposed of the see of Jerusalem, which had been gratuitously conferred on James, we proceed to the argument in favour of Diocesan Episcopacy, from the epistles addressed, in the book of the Revelation, to the seven churches of Asia. We give it in the words of Cyprian. And as it may possibly amuse the reader, while it convinces him that we were correct in saying that Archbishop Potter is one of the real authors under the signatures of Cyprian, &c. we shall put his Grace of Canterbury side by side with our Albany -friend.
CYPRIAN. “In the three first chapters of the Revelations of St. John, we find absolute demonstration of the existence of the Episcopal dignity and authority, at the time in which this work was written. In
“ St. John, in the three
first chapters of his Revelation, has given us a lively description of seven bishops who presided in the seven principal cities of the pro-consular Asia. Our Lord is there introduced, sending seven epistles to the seven churches of these cities, directed to the seven angels of the churches, whom he calls the seven stars in his right hand. Now if it appears that the seven angels
these chapters, St. John gives us a description of the seven Bishops, who superintended the interests of the church in the seven-principal cities in the Pro-Consular Asia. Our Lord is represented as sending seven Epistles to the seven churches of these cities, directed to the seven angels of the churches, whom he calls the “seven stars in his right hand.” From all the circum
were so many single persons invested with supreme authority in the seven churches, there can be no reason to doubt, whether they were the bishops of these churches ; a bishop being nothing else but one who has chief authority in the church.
“Let us examine in the first place, whether the seven angels were so many single persons : And first of all, it is manifest they were not the whole church or collective body of Christians in their several cities ; because the churches are represented by seven candlesticks, which are all along distinguished from the seven stars, which are emblems of the angels. Neither were they any select number or body of men: For they are constantly mentioned as single persons ; the angel of the church of Ephesus, the angel of the church of Smyrna, and so the rest.”
“Accordingly, both he and all the rest are constantly addressed to in the singular number ; I know thy works, I have a few things against thee, remember how thou hast
stances that are mentioned, it undeniably appears that these seven angels were so many single persons, invested with supreme authority in the churches; that is to say, they were the bishops of those churches.
“I say it manifestly appears, that these seven angels of the churches, whom the Lord calls the “seven stars” in his right hand, were single persons. They were not the . whole church or collective body of Christians. This is proved incontestably from these considerations. The whole Churches, or collective body of Christians, are represented by “seven candlesticks,” which are distinguished from the “seven stars,”. that are emblems of the Angels, the Bishops. They are constantly mentioned in the singular number. “The Angel of the Church of Ephesus”—“ the Angel of the Church of Smyrna,” and so of the rest.
And in the epistle to Thyatira it is said, “I know thy works.” “I have a few things against thee.” “Remember how thou hast heard.” “Thou hast kept the word of my pa
heard, thou hast kept the word of my patience, and so in the rest, where our Lord speaks to them in particular: But when what he writes equally concerns the people, he changes his style, and speaks in the plural : The devil shall cast some of you into prison. Thou hast not denied my faith when Antipas my faithful martyr was slain among you. I will reward every one of you according to your works. That which ye have, hold fast till I come. Which variation of the number, is a plain argument that some parts of these Epistles relate to the whole churches, and others only to
the persons of the angels.” “But there is one thing yet behind, which will put this matter beyond dispute: namely, that the titles of angels and stars are constantly applied in this book of Revelation to single men: Our Lord is called the Morning Star, and the Sun, and the apostles are called twelve stars, and twelve angels ; but there is not one example where these titles are given to any society or number of men. So that if we will allow the divine author of this book to speak in this place, as he does in all others, the angels
But what places this subject beyond all reasonable doubt is this circumstance: The titles of Angels and stars are constantly applied in the book of Revelation to single men, and never to a society or number of men. Our Lord is called the “morning star and the sun,” and the twelve Apostles are called “twelve stars,” and “twelve Angels.”
It is evident, therefore, that the seven stars or Angels in the book of Revelation, are single persons.
of the seven churches can be none but single persons.
“The next thing to be made out is, that these single persons were men of chief authority in their several churches. And we might safely conclude they were so, though we had no other proof of it, because our Lord has directed to them the Epistles, which he designed for the use of their churches. But there are several other arguments, which prove that the angels were men of eminent station and authority: For whereas the churches are only called candlesticks, the angels are resembled to stars, which give light to the candlesticks.”
“They are praised for all the good, and blamed for all the evil which happened in their churches. The angel of Ephesus is commended, because he could not bear them that were evil, and had tried those who called themselves Apostles, and were not so ; which seems to imply, that he had judicially convicted them to be impostors. And the angel of Pergamos is reproved for having them who hold the doctrine of Balaam; that is, the Nicolaitans, who allowed themselves to
That these persons possessed supreme authority in the Churches, is also demonstrated from these considerations.
These Epistles are addressed to them alone.
The Churches are called candlesticks, and they the stars which give light to the candlesticks.
The seven angels are praised for all the good which they had done, and blamed for all the evil which happened in the Churches. The Angel of Ephesus is commended because “he could not bear them that were evil, and had tried those who called themselves Apostles, and were not so,” which seems to imply that he had convicted them of impos
ture. The Angel of Perga
mos is reproved for having them “who hold the doctrine of Balaam, and he is severely
commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols ; and he is severely threatened, unless he repented: which shows he had authority to correct these disorders, otherwise he could not justly have been punished for them. The same may be said of the angel of Thyatira, who is blamed for suffering Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce the people. And the angel of Sardis is commanded to be watchful, and to strengthen those who are ready to die ; otherwise our Lord threatens to come on him, as a thief, at an hour which he should not know.”
threatened unless he repented.” This shows that he possessed authority to correct these disorders, or he could not justly be menaced with punishment for permitting them. The Angel of Thyatira also is blamed for suffering “Jezebel,” who called herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce the people. And the Angel of Sardis is commanded “to be watchful, and to strengthen those who are ready to die,” otherwise our Lord threatens to come on him “as a thief; at an hour which he should not know.”
The writers under review, having a great con
tempt for all reasoning from names, promised to intrench themselves within scriptural facts. One of their facts they find in the history of the “stars” or “angels” of the seven churches. Yet if the reader shall attentively inspect their argument, which we have placed before him in its full strength, he will perceive that it rests entirely upon their interpretation of two names. These are “angel” and “star:” which, in the symbolical language of the scripture, are as really names of office, as bishop, presbyter, deacon, are in its alphabetical or common language. The aspect of Vol. III. 18