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Dr. Bowden is of the opinion, and endeavours to show, that the duties which I have stated, are not all represented by Ignatius as belonging to his Bishop. I do not consider it as worth while to take up your time in discussing this point. Let any one look over the Epistles of Ignatius, or if he cannot have access to them, let him look over the extracts which I have given in my former Letters, including those on which Dr. B. lays the greatest stress, and then let him say whether it is possible to reconcile the whole strain and language of that venerable Father with any other than parochial or Presbyterian Episcopacy? For my part, though Dr. B. very delicately loads this suggestion with the terms nonsense, contemptible puerility,” &c. I am persuaded every impartial reader will say, it is both sounder sense, and better logic, than this gentleman, with all his “scholar-like” management, has drawn from the testimony of the pious martyr. In short, Dr. Bowden may fume and fret as long and as much as he pleases, but, after all that he has said, or can say, nothing intelligible can be made of the Bishop, Presbyters, and Deacons of that Father, materially different from the Pastor, Elders, and Deacons of every regularly organized Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Bowden supposes that Presbyterians consider the Bishop so often mentioned by Ignatius, in no other light than as the Moderator of some ecclesiastical assembly. Assuming this as our opinion, he attempts to pour ridicule upon it, by substiţuting the word Moderator for Bishop, and endeavouring to show that the supposition is utterly inconsistent with the representation given of the du. ties of this officer. When a man does not comprehend the subject which he attempts to ridicule, he is extremely apt to draw upon himself the laughter which he thought to turn against others. This is the unfortunate situation of Dr. Bowden. He seizes upon a detached fragment of Presbyterian doctrine; and, imagining that he sees and understands the whole system, he thinks to involve that system, in the absurdity which he makes to recoil upon his own.
Dr. Bowden ought to know, that Bishop and Moderator are not convertible terms; and that they are not so considered by Presbyterians. We sup. pose, and believe it is easy to prove, that the word Bishop, in the Apostolic age, signified, simply, the Pastor or Overseer of a flock, or single congregation. Accordingly we conclude that there were several organized Churches both at Ephesus and Philippi, in the days of the Apostles, because the Scriptures expressly tell us that, at that time, there were several Bishops in both those cities. We have shown, too, that each Church, in the days of the Apostles, was commonly furnished with a bench of Ruling Elders, and Deacons. We have also rea. son to believe, that, in large congregations, there were several Elders who, as assistants, laboured in the word and doctrine. The Pastor, that is the Pres. byter who was particularly invested with the Pas
toral charge, was called the Bishop of that Church; and when the Elders came together, and sat as a Church session, or ecclesiastical court, he, of course presided as their Moderator. It is easy to per. ceive, however, that this Bishop was equally such, both in fact, and in name, whether he was ever called to act as Moderator or not. The mere circumstance of his having no bench of Eiders, and no Church session in which to preside, did not destroy or affect his Pastoral character. We maintain, that there was no other species of Bishop, during the time of the Apostles, than such as has been described, that is, the Pastor of a single flock or Church.
But we suppose that, very early after the Apostle's days, when the congregations, and, of course, the Pastors, in large cities, became numerous, and frequently convened for the transaction of ecclesi. astical business, that the custom was adopted of choosing one person, generally the most aged and venerable of the number, to act as President, Chairman, or Moderator, and that, after a while, the title of Bishop was, by way of eminence conferred on him; and, in process of time, gradually approprio ated to him. Hence it is a notorious fact, which our Episcopal brethren do not pretend to deny, that Bishops, in the second and third centuries, were frequently distinguished by the titles, PRESI. DENT, CHAIRMAN, and the person who filled the FIRST SEAT in the Presbytery. But this no more implied, nor, at that time, was considered as inaplying, a superiority of rank or order, on the part of the Chairman, than the office of Moderator in one of our Presbyteries or Synods, clothes the Pastor who fills it with a permanent superiority of order over his brethren.
In some cities, however, it is evident that a different plan was pursued. When the converts to the Christian faith became so numerous, that they were no longer able to worship in one assembly; and especially when a number of persons from the neighbouring villages joined the city Church, some of these members began to lay plans for forming separate and smaller congregations nearer home. To this the Bishop consented, on condition that the little worshipping societies thus formed should consider themselves as still under his pastoral care, as amenable to the parent Church, and as bound to obey him as their spiritual guide. When the Pastor agreed to this arrangement, it was generally understood, that there should be but one Communion table, and one Baptistery in the city or parish; and, of course, that when the members of these neighbouring societies wished to receive either of the sacraments, they were to attend at the parent Church, and receive them from the hands of the Pastor or Bishop himself. The ordinary services of public worship on the Lord's day, were performed at little oratories, or chapels of ease, planted at different and convenient places within the parish; and on these, it was considered as suffi. cient for the assistant preachers, or curates to at
tend. But at special seasons, at least once or twice in the year, every Church-member was held under obligations to attend the Mother Church, and commune with the Pastor himself.
This was laying the foundation for the authority of one Bishop or Pastor over several distinctly organized congregations, which, not long afterwards, was claimed and yielded.
We have specimens of a similar arrangement in modern times. Fifteen years ago all the Episcopal inhabitants of the city of New York, were under the pastoral care of the Rector of TrinityChurch. In the beginning, that Rector had only one Church under his inspection, and was himself the only Preacher in it. But when a second and a third were built, and a large congregation established in each, it was still thought proper to retain the whole under the care of one Pastor with several Assistants ; so that when there were three Episcopal Churches, and probably from eight to ten thousand Episcopalians in the city, there was still but one Rector over the whole, with a number of As. sistant Clergymen, who were considered, and treated as officially subordinate to him. Yet these Assistant Clergymen had, in reality, the same ordination with their Rector; were as perfectly qualified as himself, to take a Rectorate or Pastoral charge, without any new ordination; and were of the same ecclesiastical order, although, as long as they retained this relation to him, they were his clergy, and were under his control in all their professional