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brethren, whether any thing can be plainer or more decisive than this language? I appeal to your candour, whether the man who is capable of saying that these are obscure” and “doubtful” passages, can be safely trusted either as a discerning or an impartial judge.
Dr. Bowden, indeed, alleges, that these “obscure” passages from Jerome are more than counterbalanced by others, in which he avowedly maintains the Apostolical origin of Prelacy. But where are such passages to be found in that Father? Dr. B. has produced none of them; and until he does produce them, I must be excused for doubting their existence. He has brought forward, it is true, seven quotations, each of which he tells us is clear and pointed. But no person, it is presumed, excepting Dr. B. himself, can see the “clearness, or the "point" of any one of the number. Je. rome, it seems, asserts, that “ Without the Bi
shop's command, neither Presbyter nor Deacon “ has a right to baptize.” He observes, “ That " the Scriptures give the name of Princes to those “ who should be Bishops of the Church." He styles Polycarp, prince of Asia*; and asserts that
* For the passage in which Ferome represents Polycarp as prince of all Asia, and Bishop of Smyrna, Dr. Bowden refers to the work De Scriptor. Eccles. Has the Doctor yet to learn that this work is acknowledged by the ablest Episcopal writers to be interpolated and suspicious; and particularly, that they have acknowledged as among the interpolations, several passages in which persons are mentioned as Bishops of particalar Churches in the Apostolic age ? he was “ made Bishop of Smyrna by St. John 66 himself.” Speaking of certain differences between the Catholic Churches, and those of the Montanists, he says,
16 With us, the Bishops “ hold the place of the Apostles; with them the “ Bishop holds the third place.” Again, he says, “ it is the custom of the Church, for Bishops to go “ and invoke the Holy Spirit by imposition of “ hands, on such as were baptized by Presbyters “ and Deacons, in villages and places remote from " the mother Church. Do you ask, where this is " written? In the Acts of the Apostles.” In another place he says, “ The Apostles were thy Fa“thers, because they begat thee; but now that
they have left the world, thou hast in their stead, " their sons, the Bishops*.” And finally, in his
Epistle to Evagrius, he remarks, " That we
may know that the Apostolic traditions were “ taken from the Old Testament, that which Aaron “ and his sons, and the Levites, were in the tem“ ple, let the Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons,
Besides, supposing the work to be genuine, why is no reference made to the particular part in which the passages referred to may be found ? I really expected more
so scholar like” conduct from this gentleman ; especially after his repeated and solemn promises to that effect.
* This quotation also Dr. Bowden takes from the adulterated work De Script. Eccles.; and again quotes it without any reference to a particular part or page. The “ learned” professor is perpetually forgetting his promise, to act a more "scholar like” part.
l6 claim to themselves in the Church.”_'These are all the passages which Dr. Bowden cites with so much exultation, and which he considers as pointedly asserting the Apostolical institution of Prelacy. But I will venture to pronounce, that there is not one of these passages, which can be considered by any impartial reader, as furnishing the least solid ground for such a conclusion; and only one of the whole number which bears even the semblance of an argument to this effect.
When Jerome says that Bishops come in the place of the Apostles, and hold the first place among the officers of the Church; when he remarks, that the Apostles having left the world, we have the Bishops in their place; and when he as. serts that Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna; he speaks a language in which every Presbyterian is ready to join him. Is it possible that Dr. Bowden is so utterly unacquainted with our principles, as not to know, that we consider our Bishops or Pastors, as the true and proper successors of the Apostles; and as holding the highest official station in the Church? Did he ever meet with a Presbyterian who doubted that Polycarp had a pastoral charge, or, in other words, was a Bishop in Smyr. na? Again, when yerome says, “ Without the Bi
shop's command, neither Presbyter nor Deacon “ has a right to baptize," he evidently meant to assert that this was the case in the fourth century, when he lived. But did any Presbyterian ever deny that in the days of Jerome, Prelacy was estab
lished? The criticism which Dr. B. makes on the word right (jus) which occurs in this passage, I pass over as unworthy of his good sense, and as undeserving of reply. Further, when Ferome declares, that the Scriptures give the name of Princes to Bishops, and when he asserts that Polycarp was Prince of all Asia, he says what our Episcopal brethren themselves acknowledge to be falsehoods. They know that no such official title is, any where in Scripture, given to Bishops ; and they acknowledge also that Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna only, and that Metropolitans and Patriarchs did not arise until a considerable time after his day. When Jerome says, “ It is the custom of the church " for Bishops to lay their hands on such as have * been baptized by Presbyters and Deacons, and to " invoke the Holy Spirit,” he asserts nothing more than that it was the custom of the Church in his day. Who doubts this? Do we not all know that, before the time of ferome, the rite which is called Confirmation had crept into the Church, and began to claim apostolic institution? And even when Jerome refers to the Acts of the Apostles as his authority for this custom, it is nothing to the purpose as to the present controversy ; for he does not say, that the persons who laid hands on baptized persons in the Apostles' days, were the same kind of Bishops with those who arrogated to themselves that power in his days. Nay, he says, in another place, directly the contrary. And, finally, when you
rome remarks, what Aaron and his sons, and the " Levites were in the temple, let the Bishops, Pres. " byters, and Deacons claim to themselves in the “ Church;" and when he speaks of this parallel as an“ apostolical tradition," we can only infer from his language the well-known fact, that in his day, high-churchmen were fond of comparing the Christian ministry with the Jewish Priesthood ; of endeavouring to show that the former succeeded to the grades, titles, and privileges of the latter ; and of pleading apostolical tradition for this doc. trine. It is known, independent of any testimony from Jerome, that this was the fashionable doctrine and language of his time ; and it was natural for him to adopt that language, when he was not particularly called to speak of the system actually established by the apostles. But when Jerome undertakes professedly and formally to tell us how this matter actually stood in the apostolic age, he speaks in the following explicit and unequivocal language. Com. ment. in Tit. 1. 9. “ A Presbyter is the same as a “ Bishop; and before there were, by the instigation “ of the devil, parties in religion, and it was said “ among the people, I am of Paul, I of Apollos, and “ I of Cephas, the churches were governed by the
common council of Presbyters. But afterwards “ when every one thought that those whom he bap66 tized were rather his than Christ's, it was deter“ mined through the whole world, that one of the " Presbyters should be set above the rest, to whom