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Verum operi longo fas est obrepere somnum : the right to be drowsy, in protracted toil, has become prescriptive. Homer occasionally nodded; and we shall not refuse to Cyprian and his colleagues the indulgence of a nap. The sum is, that the terms apostle, bishop, presbyter, deacon, designate, with precision, officers known and established in the apostolic church— | That no two of these terms are used interchange. ably, excepting “presbyter” and “bishop.” We mean that apostle and bishop; apostle and presbyter; apostle and deacon; bishop and deacon; presbyter and deacon, are never put promiscuously the one for the other: And the reason is, that they do not signify the same thing. But that “bishop” and “presbyter” are used interchangeably; so that you may put the one for the other at pleasure, without destroying or obscuring the sense of the sacred writers: and the reason is, and must be, that they do signify the same thing; that is, they mark one and the same grade of ecclesiastical rulers. This last proposition, Theodoret, fierce as he was for prelacy, has himself advanced. . He probably did not observe how fatal it is to the hierarchy, as the discussions on that subject were not, in his day, very deep nor general. But so sensible was Dr. Hammond, the most learned,
“manifest” communication of the apostolic authority—to hold him up with one hand as a venerable defender of their cause; and with the other to lash him as a miserable sophist.
perhaps, of all the episcopal champions, that the argument drawn by presbyterians from the identity of the scriptural bishop and presbyter, is conclusive against prelacy, that he boldly denied the existence of such officers as are now called presbyters, till about or after the death of the apostles.” In supporting this paradoxical opinion, he metamorphoses every presbyter of the apostolic church into a diocesan bishop ! The meaning of language shall be inverted: the testimony of the scripture shall be dislocated: the presbyters of the city of Ephesus shall be an assemblage of diocesan bishops collected from all Asia! Truth, probability, and common sense, shall be set at naught—but the object is worth the price; the sacrifice is amply compensated, provided presbyters be banished from the New Testament, and no ruler be seen there unless in the shape of a diocesan bishop ! Had only the Layman and Cyprian, and their friends, been troubled, there had been less cause of surprise. But that an argument “good for nothing;” a bit of “miserable sophistry,” should put Dr. Hammond, the 8 row, the very Goliath of “the church,” into such a fright as nearly to turn his brain, is strange indeed! But should the episcopalian be worsted in the contest about the scriptural titles, what will be to us the advantage of victory, or to him the injury of defeat, if he shall, nevertheless, establish his claim by scriptural facts 2 So very little, that the choice between victory and defeat, on the first ground, would not be worth a straw to either. Abstractly considered, there is no inconsistency between our own doctrine of the identity of bishops and presbyters, and the episcopal doctrine of a superiour grade. For certainly it does not follow, from the nature of the thing, that because bishop and presbyter mean the same officer, therefore there is no other officer above him. But as the facts stand, the case is widely different; and the value of the argument from the scriptural titles lies here, that this superiour order must be sound among the bishops and presbyters, or not at all; because, with the exception of deacons, these were the only ordinary officers in the apostolic church. If, then, “bishop” is the same with “presbyter,” the superiour or prelatical order is absolutely unknown to the official language of the New Testament. Presbyters and deacons we meet with in abundance, but not the shadow of a prelate ever crosses our path. Now, that official titles should be conferred upon every grade of officers in the church except the highest; that this officer should have no place in the official catalogue; that he should wander up and down among the churches without so much as a name; that while his subalterns are mentioned particularly and repeatedly,
* “Although this title of IIgsg391401, Elders, have been extended to a second order in the church, and is now only in use for them, under the names of Presbyters, yet in the scripture-times it belonged principally, if not alone, to bishops, there being no evidence that any of that second order were then instituted, though soon after, before the writing of Ignatius' epistles, there were such instituted in all the churches.”—HAMMOND, on Act xi. 30. p. 380.
How irreconcileably all this is at war with the assertions and reasonings of other learned advocates of the hierarchy, from whom the unlearned ones necessarily copy, we may amuse ourselves with showing in a more convenient place. One or two remarks we cannot suppress. Dr. Hammond does not tell us how these presbyters came into the church, but is pretty sure that they were introduced after “the scripture times,” that is, after the canon of the scripture was completed, and “before the writing of Ignatius' epistles.” The Dr. then confesses that the order of presbyters as inferiour to the bishop, is not of divine right; there being no evidence that any of that second order were instituted in scripture times: consequently, that as Christ had regulated his church, bishops or presbyters, and deacons, had no intermediate officer between them. This is exactly what the presbyterians maintain, and they are much his debtor. But as he saw that their argument would ruin him, as he was utterly unable to controvert its principle, viz. the identity of the bishop and presbyter; and as he was determined not to give up the hierarchy, he had recourse to the extravagant fiction of transforming all the presbyters into Diocesans. But as Diocesans with only deacons, would constitute rather a bald hierarchy, it was requisite, to give eclat to their dignity, to foist in another order for which three is no scriptural warrant. And thus at one stroke he has levelled with the ground the whole fabric which the other episcopal workmen have been rearing. For if Timothy and Titus were not Diocesan bishops, as the latter affirm and the Dr. denies; and if they were not metropolitans, as the Dr. affirms, the others deny, and no man living can prove; then one of their famous three orders has vanished away. Of the Dr’s supposition that the presbyters were instituted before the writings of Ignatius' epistles, the reason is, that they must be found prior to that date, or else poor Ignatius must be hung up for forgery.—A notable manceuvre this to save the credit of the principal witness for the Hierarchy.
his own existence and dignity should be a matter of mere inference from his acts, so far surpasses all the powers of belief, that the proof of his existence is almost, if not altogether, impossible. This leads to a very short refutation of a plea on which no small “reliance” has been placed by episcopal writers, from Theodoret down to the Layman; viz. that names of office, like other words, change their signification; and become, in process of time, signs of ideas quite different from those which they originally expressed. “In Roman history,” says the Layman, “we find the term Imperator at one period applied to designate a general of an army; at another, a magistrate clothed with unlimited civil and military authority. Suppose we should be told that every general of an army was Emperor of Rome; and that the Emperor of Rome was merely general of an army; what would be the reply That the term Imperator had changed its signification. And how would this be proved By the Roman history, which shows us that the Emperors had generals under them, over whom they exercised authority. Apply this reasoning to the case under consideration. The terms bishop, presbyter, are used promiscuously in the New Testament. Therefore, say the advocates of parity, they designated the same office in the ages subsequent to the apostles. Is this a logical conclusion ? Surely not. Names change their signification. Ecclesiastical history tells us, and the most learned advocates of parity have admitted the fact, that the order of bishops existed in the church as distinct from, and superiour to, the order of presbyters, within forty or fifty years after the last of the apostles. The bishops then had presbyters under them, over whom they exercised authority. The offices were distinct from the beginning, bishops being the successors,