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how this distinction could have gained such an early establish- ELIZA
BETII. ment, unless founded by the Apostles, is unimaginable to conceive. That the form of Church government was monarchical, and under the conduct of the bishops towards the latter end of the Apostles' times, and so forward, appears from unquestionable records. To produce something of this kind, Clemens Romanus, constituted bishop of Rome by the Apostles, endeavours to recover the Corinthians from their turbulent humours, and presses their keeping within the compass of their station, in these words :-“ The high priest (says he) had this peculiar business prescribed: the priests of the second order had their posts assigned them, and the Levites had ministrations particu- Clem. Rom. lar to their distinction; and laymen likewise are tied to peculiar duties. I would have all of you, my brethren, keep within your own station, and not break through your bounds into foreign business."
1 Epist. ad From hence, it is plain Clemens Romanus describes the Christian hierarchy under the same names and distinctions as they stood ranged in the Jewish economy. His reason must be, that this distribution of the priesthood was thought proper for Christianity, and that our Saviour and his Apostles had transferred it from the synagogue to the Church. And thus several others, besides Clemens Romanus, call the bishop high priest, the presbyter iepɛùs, and deacons Levites. That St. Clemens points at the orders of the clergy then settled in the Christian Church, appears plainly from what follows after his recital of the distinction of high priest, priest, and Levite. “My brethren, (says he) let every one of you be careful to move within his station,” &c. From hence it may be clearly The Chrisinferred, that the foregoing distinctions in the synagogue were archy foundapplicable to the case of the Corinthians ; that their hierarchy
model of the was in some measure formed upon the Jewish model ; that the Jewish. bishop was in lieu of the high priest, the presbyters of the inferior priests, and the deacons represented the Levites; and that these three orders had their assignment of peculiar busi
And therefore he exhorts all of them to keep within the bounds of their respective employments. Neither is the passage which follows soon after in this Epistle any contradiction to what is here delivered. The passage is this : “that the apostles, after our Saviour's resurrection, ordained their first converts bishops and deacons in the places where they travelled;
WHIT- and that this was done for the benefit of those who should after-
But here the reader may observe it is plain, from the citation, that St. Clemens does not describe the Church as it was then constituted, but as it stood immediately after our Saviour's resurrection. However, even then there were three distinctions in the clergy. First, apostles ; next, bishops, or presbyters; and, under them, deacons. Bishops, in the commonly received sense, succeeded to the apostles; but then it was not
necessary the apostles should raise the episcopal character for 619. succession, till they were almost ready to retire themselves.
But that they did fix the settlement of three orders in the Church, is plain, by the testimony of St. Clemens already cited. Neither could this holy bishop be ignorant under what divisions, under what diversity of powers, the apostles had ranged the officers of the Church, since himself was made
bishop of Rome by St. Peter or St. Paul. Ignatius full Farther: the famous St. Ignatius governed the see of Anfor three
tioch before the death of Clemens Romanus; he likewise held distinct
a correspondence with some of the apostolical college, it is therefore impossible he could be unacquainted with the form of government constituted by the apostles, with the different orders they had settled in the hierarchy; and the proportions of power assigned to each of them. Now St. Ignatius, in
those epistles which unquestionably belong to him, frequently Epist. Ignat. ad mentions the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons ; Magnes Talian. ad and here the bishop is always distinguished as their supreme. Philadelph. Thus it is evident, that at the end of the apostolical age, at ad Ephes. ad Smyr
least, there were three distinct orders settled in the Church; and alib. that they were afterwards kept on, is no less unquestionable. Farther
'or instance, in the year of our Lord 142, which at most is proof for this point.
but three-and-forty years after the death of St. John, Pius I. was promoted to the see of Rome. This prelate, in an un
doubted epistle of his to Justus, bishop of Vienne, speaks thus: Episcopo- “ Since the brethren have elected you bishop of the noble city
of Vienne, let the episcopal habit put you in mind of your Beveridge's
duty, and take care to manage up to the function to which our Lord has called you." And a little after he subjoins : “Let the priests and deacons regard you as the servant of Christ.” Here Justus, the bishop, and his priests and deacons, are distinctly mentioned.
Id. de Pre
In the year of our Lord 180, Irenæus was bishop of Lyons. ELIZAThis eminent father expressly affirms, that the bishops succeeded the apostles ; and that the apostles put the government of the Churches into their hands. He likewise mentions Iren. lib. 3. presbyters or priests in several places. As for deacons, they cal. Jib. 3. occur but seldom in his writings. However, nobody denies the cap. 2. et settlement of this order from the beginning: from whence the consequence is, that in Irenæus's time there were three distinctions of the clergy in Gaul ; and that in this early age the Churches in Alexandria and Carthage were furnished with the three orders above-mentioned, is evident from the testimonies of Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Origen. high-priest,” says Tertullian, “that is, the bishop, has the original right of administering baptism; from hence it is derived to the priests and deacons, but not unless they have a commission from the bishop.” And elsewhere, speaking of the Tertull. de floating condition of heretical communions, he observes, "their
Baptism. bishops were frequently thrown out of their character, and that their priests and deacons were promoted to those orders with script, adout proper distances of time.” Clemens Alexandrinus mentions cap. 41. the three different ranks of bishops, priests, and deacons, and believes them “founded upon a resemblance of the angelic orders." Origen, upon the 15th of St. Matthew, has these Stromat. words: “Such a bishop,” says he,“ does not desire a good work; and you will say the same thing concerning priests and deacons." And in his second homily upon Numbers, in his second homily upon the Canticles, and elsewhere, he makes express mention of bishops, priests, and deacons.
From all these authorities of the ancients, nothing can be more evident than that the three distinct orders of bishops, priests, and deacons, were settled immediately after the death of the apostles ; and that not in a few places, but in Asia, Africa, and Europe; that is, in all parts of the then known world. Farther, the officers of the Church being thus generally and early ranged under these distinctions, this, if we had no other proof, would sufficiently demonstrate that these three orders were of apostolic institution : for it is unimaginable to conceive that all the churches of Christendom, so remote from each other, should agree in the same form of government, in the same ecclesiastic distinctions, unless this institution had been conveyed
to them by the apostles, from whom they received their Abp. Cant. Christianity.
And lastly, it is particularly remarkable, that no canons, no decree of any council, no writings of any of the fathers, mention either the raising or confirming of any of these three offices. It is true the ancient canons afford a great deal touching the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons; they regulate their functions, and settle the respective limits of each order : but neither canons, councils, nor fathers, mention their being first instituted in any part of Christendom, by any authority, excepting that of the apostles. Neither indeed was it in the power of any council to transform the original government, to introduce new orders, and bring a change upon the apostolic institution; for it was a privilege peculiar to the apostles to determine the form of government, and settle the dis
tinctions of the clergy, no less than to deliver the articles of belief. Orders given
Secondly, I shall now prove in a few words, that orders conhey comerse ferred by presbyters, have been all along reckoned null and inpresbyters, aways ac-,, significant. The learned Beveridge observes, that from the for the first beginning of Christianity to the sixteenth century, no person
was ever looked on as one of the inferior clergy, much less a priest, unless he was ordained by some bishop; and that this was the opinion of the universal Church for fifteen hundred years together. To give some instances : when the second general council at Constantinople had pronounced Maximus no
bishop, they immediately add, that those ordained by him Concil.C.P. should not be allowed any ecclesiastic character. Thus when
Athanasius was charged by the Arians, that Macarius, one of his deacons, had broken the communion cup; a synod at Alexandria meeting at that time, examined this article. And here, upon inquiry, they found there was neither priest nor deacon where the profane outrage was said to be committed; there was no ecclesiastic in that place, excepting one Ischyras, who pretended himself ordained by one Colluthus : now upon examination it was found this Colluthus was no more than a presbyter or priest. Upon this the synod pronounces Ischyras no priest, nor in any clerical station; and that he was no more than a mere layman. The words of the synod being very remarkable, I shall give them the reader. “How came Ischyras to be a priest? Who ordained him? Was it Colluthus?
Yes, matter of fact stands thus. Well, but Colluthus being ELIZA
BETH. never any more than a priest, all his ordinations have been declared null; and those promoted by him were pronounced laymen, and treated as such; that they were received to the holy eucharist no otherwise than those of the laity; and that 620. this was so evident that nobody could deny it.”
ad Imperat. This declaration of the Alexandrian synod is confirmed by Constant. the council of Sardica, where Ischyras is disclaimed from being Apol.p: 732. a priest. “ The Arians,” say these Fathers, “rewarded Ischyras for his false evidence, with the title of a bishop, though the man is not so much as a presbyter."
It is no wonder, therefore, that St. Jerome, though a great lib. 2. cap.8. champion for the privilege of presbyters, should own the authority for giving orders peculiar to bishops.
excepta orFrom this practice and declaration of the Church, Gregory dinatione,
episcopus, III. lays it down for a rule, that when it was questionable quod preswhether the person who ordained a priest was a bishop or intermon not, the person was to be re-ordained by the diocesan before Hieron. ad
Evagrium. he was admitted to any priestly function.
Greg. III. This regulation was so religiously observed by the ancient Epist. 2.
. 2. Church, that the second council of Seville being informed, that apud Graat an ordination of a priest and two deacons, the bishop 68. cap. 2. being troubled with sore eyes, only laid his hands upon them; but that the solemn benediction, or form in the ordinal, was pronounced by a presbyter ;-upon this information the council decreed, “ that this ordination carried scandal, but nothing of authority with it; and therefore it was highly reasonable they should be set aside, and disclaimed in their Concil.
Hispal. 2. respective pretensions.” And this may serve for the proof of this point.
From hence the reader may conclude, that if Calvin, Beza, or any other abettors of Presbyterian parity, had lived in the time of the Fathers, they would have been very indifferently received. This may easily be collected from the principles and practice of the universal Church.
To give another instance: what was it that marked Arius and his party for heretics? Was it not their confounding the character of bishops and priests, and setting them on the level? I do not speak this to reproach the Dissenters, or suggest any methods of rigour ; my intention is only to rescue them from their prejudices, to bring them to recollection, and awaken them out of their schism. But now it is time to come off the digression; if