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"called together the Church of God, like the mas"ter of a ship, require them to assemble often, "with all prudence and regularity of discipline. "Command the Deacons, as so many mariners, "that they appoint convenient places for all the "brethren, as for so many passengers, with all care ❝and decency. And first let the house of worship "be oblong, turned toward the east, having seats "(or pews) on both sides, towards the east, and "like a ship. In the middle place let the Bishop's 16 seat be; and on both sides of him let the Pres "byters sit. But let the Deacons stand ready for "service, lightly clothed, for they are like the ma"riners, and those that order the sides of the ship. "By their care, let the laymen sit quietly and or"derly in one part of the Church: and the women " also by themselves, abstaining from talking. Let "the Reader, standing in the middle, in some high place, read the Books of Moses, &c. The read"ing being finished, let another sing the hymns of "David. Then let our Acts (i. e. the Acts of the "Apostles) and the Epistles, be recited. After "these things let the Presbyters exhort the peo66 ple; and last of all the Bishop, who is like the "master of the ship. Let the Door-keepers stand "at the Church doors, where the men enter; and "the Deaconesses where the women enter. If "any be found sitting out of his own place, let the "Deacon reprove him, and let him be conducted "to a proper place. Let the Deacons take care "that none whisper, sleep, laugh, nod, &c. After
"the catechumens and penitents have retired, let "the Deacons prepare for the celebration of the "Eucharist, &c."
No one can read these rules without perceiving that they relate to the ordinary worship of Christian assemblies, when convened on the sabbath. To doubt this, is to fly in the face of common sense. Yet we find the presence of the Bishop, in every public service, spoken of as indispensable. Is it not manifest, then, that this Bishop could only have been the Pastor of a single flock?
The sixth General Council of Constantinople, which was held about the year 692, acknowledged the" Scripture Deacons to be no other than over"seers of the poor; and that this was the opinion "of the ancient Fathers." Can. 16. Here is another explicit acknowledgment, that the Apostolic constitution of the Church, as to her officers, was notoriously changed, prior to the year 692.
The Council of Aix la Chapelle, held about the year 816, in the most unequivocal terms owned the original identity of Bishops and Presbyters, and expressly declared, that "the ordination of the "clergy was reserved to the high-priest only for "the maintenance of his dignity." Can. 8. Could this form of expression have been thought correct if Presbyters were, by divine right, destitute of the power of ordaining? Certainly not.
Some other facts, which are ascertained from the writings of the Fathers, and which were mentioned in my former Letters, deserve further considera
tion. We are informed, by several early writers, that the Bishops, during the first three centuries, were alone considered as authorized to administer Baptism and the Lord's Supper. From Ignatius, Tertullian, and Cyprian, we learn that Christians, in those days, received the Eucharist from no hands but those of the Bishop; and that Baptism was considered as his appropriate work, and never to be administered by any other hands, unless in cases of necessity. Again, in the 30th Canon of the Council of Agatha, it is said" It shall not be "lawful for a Presbyter in the Church to pronounce "the benediction on the people, or to bless a peni"tent." Now, when it is notorious, that, in those days, the Lord's Supper was administered every sabbath, and in some Churches oftener; when cases of Baptism doubtless continually occurred; and when pronouncing the benediction on the people made, then, as well as now, a part of every public service; it is plain that the presence of a Bishop was considered as indispensable, every Lord's day, in every worshipping assembly. Is it not evident, when this was the case, that the Bishop could have been nothing less or more than the Pastor of a single Church?
Dr. Bowden does not attempt to deny the facts here alleged. They are, indeed, so abundantly confirmed by the voice of antiquity, that he cannot possibly call them in question. But he endeavours to evade their force by saying, that these writers only mean in general to represent the Bishop
as the fountain of all ecclesiastical power; and to assert that none have a right to administer the ordinances of religion, excepting those who are empowered by him. And, in like manner, and on the same principle, he intimates, that the Presbyters in the Episcopal Church, baptize and administer the Eucharist in virtue of permission given them by the Bishop for that purpose. This is an evasion unworthy of Dr. B.'s understanding and gravity. The writers above quoted, undoubtedly convey the idea, that administering Baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was the appropriate and peculiar work of the Bishop as such; that in cases of necessity only they might commit these ordinances to other hands; but that for every such dispensation there must be a distinct expression of the Bishop's will, and his leave expressly obtained. In short, the idea evidently meant to be conveyed is, that certain acts could be done regularly by the Bishop only; but that in cases of sickness, necessary absence, &c. he might empower some one to perform them as his substitute; just as, among Presbyterians, the administration of sealing ordinances is considered as the appropriate duty of each Pastor within his parish; though at the same time, if he have an assistant, or if any other ordained minister happen to be present, the Pastor may, without transgressing any ecclesiastical law, request him to officiate in his room: it being always remembered, however, that for every such act, a new request, and a new permission, on the part of the Pastor, are ne
cessary. But does this bear any resemblance to the Episcopal system, in which Baptism and the Lord's Supper are in no degree the appropriated duty of a Prelate; but according to which every Presbyter, whether he have the charge of a congregation or not, is considered as possessing, in virtue of his general commission, a right to administer both the sacraments, at all times, and in all places, without consulting his Bishop? I am astonished that Dr. Bowden could so far impose on himself as to imagine that there is any resemblance between the two cases.
After all, then, that Dr. Bowden has urged against my exhibition of the testimony of the Fathers, it appears that he has not succeeded in setting aside a single material fact, or in refuting a single important argument, which I had deduced from the works of those early writers.
It appears, that the titles, Bishop and Presbyter, were promiscuously applied to the same persons, not only in the Apostolic age, but also till the close of the second century. This Dr. Bowden himself acknowledges; though he asserts, at the same time, that in the second century, it was seldom so applied. Now if the interchangeable application of these terms was continued until that time, and afterwards does not occur, must we not conclude, that about, or immediately after that time, some change took place in the arrangement of ecclesiastical dignities, which led to a more restricted use of the