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not of those who are promiscuously called bishops, presbyters, elders, in the New Testament, but of the apostles themselves. Theodoret tells us expressly, “that in the process of time those who succeeded to the apostolic office, left the name of apostle to the apostles, strictly so called, and gave the name of bishop to those who succeeded to the apostolic office.” No argument, then, can be founded on the promiscuous use of names.” We hardly expected to find the Layman advancing and retracting a doctrine in the compass of a single page. Yet, assuredly, if bishops are not the successors of those who are promiscuously called bishops and presbyters, then these names do designate a precise order of officers, which was the very thing the Layman had denied in the preceding paragraph. That names change their signification is no new discovery. But can this either help the hierarchy, or hurt the advocates of parity ? Things are before names; and the changes in things before changes in names. If therefore, a change has passed upon the signification of official names in the church, since the days of the apostles, that alone proves to a demonstration, that a change has also passed upon the offices themselves; which consequently are not as the apostles left them. This is exactly what the presbyterians maintain ; and so the episcopal plea returns with all its force upon its authors, and fastens upon their hierarchy the charge of having departed from, and corrupted, the order which Christ appointed for his church, and which the death of his apostles sealed up for permanency. We are not ignorant that the prelatical writers attribute this change of names to a very different cause. The celebrated Dr. Bentley, who, in critical learning, in spirit, and fire, surpasses the most of them, and falls short of none, thinks it was the modesty of the prelates” which induced them to relinquish the name of apostle, and to assume that of bishop. It is hard to estimate the degree of modesty which pervaded an immensely numerous body of prelatest at a period of which we have scarcely any records. The epistles of their tutelar saint, Ignatius, do not abound with that lovely virtue; and all the world is witness, that in matters relating to their titles and power, the order has been entirely innocent of such an imputation for fourteen centuries at least. The apostles themselves decorated the prelates, we are told, with their own name and ordinary dignity; they exercised the authority and wore the name, during the life, and in the presence of the apostles; and after their death retained the dignity, but renounced the appellation out of pure modesty! Dr. Hammond has more regard to consistency. He first creates, after the death of the apostles, an inferiour order of clergy; and as they could not well do without a name, he very ingeniously splits up the designation of the pre-existing order, giving one half to the prelates, and the other to his new race of officers! We repeat, that change of names pre-supposes change of things. This is the natural and necessary course of language. The contrary would reverse the operations of the human mind. When the change was introduced, is perfectly immaterial to the argument. When the last of the apostles breathed out his spirit, the authority of the living God “ bound up the testimony, and sealed the law among his disciples.” No additions nor diminutions now. And whether the alteration in the government of the church, which produced a corresponding alteration in the names of her of ficers, took place “forty years,” or forty score of years, or forty hours after the decease of the apostles, is not, with regard to the rule of conscience, worth the trouble of a question. The advocates of parity, do not, as the Layman affirms, infer from the promiscuous use of the terms bishop and presbyter in the New Testament, “that they designated the same office in the ages subsequent to the apostles.” It is of no importance to them, what these terms signified in after ages. They prove that these terms signify in the New Testament, one and the same order of rulers; and therefore insist, that, as the rule of faith and the sense of the scripture are immutable, the same terms must mean, at this hour, the very same
* LAYMAN, No. 1. Collec. p. 8, 9.
* Phileleutherus Lipsiensis, p. 186. # Dr. HAMMON D says there were twenty-four, besides the metropolitan, in Judea alone. Annot. on Rev. iv. 4.
pen of an apostle. This is enough for them, as they entertain no fear of being unable to demonstrate that the scriptural presbyters are not diocesan bishops; and are the only ordinary rulers which the New Testament, the statute book of Christ's kingdom, recognizes as of his institution. The subsequent change of sense in the scriptural titles, as we have more than once observed, proves decisively a change in the original order of the church: for upon no other principle can the other change be explained. The Layman has been peculiarly unhappy, in forcing it upon the notice of his readers. He has only turned “king's evidence,” against his party; and, in attempting to parry a Presbyterian thrust, has unwittingly smitten his own bishop under the fifth rib. The advocates for the Hierarchy labour hard to show that any argument from official names to the offices designated in the New Testament, is inconclusive. They even pronounce it “good for nothing.” Their hope is to render the scripture, thus far, neutral; that if it bear no testimony for them, it shall bear none against them. Whether they have succeeded in this attempt or not, we leave to the dispassionate judgment of the reader, who, with a desire of perceiving and embracing the truth, has deliberately considered what we have already written. We now follow them to their argument from the
scriptural facts, upon which they avowedly rest the weight of their cause. The first of these facts is the triple order of the priesthood among the Jews. “We find,” says the Layman, “three orders of officers in the Jewish church; and, in the Christian, there have always been three orders answering to these. What Aaron, his sons, and the Levites were in the temple, that bishops, priests, and deacons are in the Church. Such is the concurring testimony of the primitive fathers. Take that of St. Jerome, whom the advocates of parity are fond of quoting, and to whom, therefore, it is presumed, they will not object. “That we may know the apostolical economy to be taken from the patterm of the Old Testament, the same that Aaron, and his sons, and the Levites, were in the temple, the bishops, presbyters, and deacons, are in the church of Christ.” It is too absurd to attempt to turn this parallel into ridicule. By the very same mode of proceeding you may destroy the whole Christian dispensation. In all that he has said upon this point, the miscellaneous writer has contributed much more to the support of infidelity than of any other cause. “How far, then, do we carry this argument 7 “We say, simply, that the law being figurative of the gospel, in all its important parts, the Jewish priesthood was, of course, typical of the Christian. For this we have the express declaration of the apostle Paul, and the advocates of parity will not pretend to controvert the position. Well, then, the priest of the law serving as “the example and shadow of heavenly things,” the circumstance of there being three orders in the Jewish ministry, furnishes a strong presumption against the doctrine of parity. We do not rely upon this as proof. We merely state it as presumptive evidence, entitled to real attention. It gives us, we contend, possession of the ground, and throws the burden of proof upon our opponents.