Images de page
PDF
ePub

and German divines, who succeeded to the Reformers, any man of reading might safely engage to produce ten, more pointed concessions from divines of the Church of England, in favour of Pres- "? byterianism.

It would be perfectly easy to fill a volume with quotations in proof of what has been advanced. The following selection will be sufficient to answer my purpose. It will be clearly seen, that, as the great body of the Reformers never offered the plea of necessity for establishing Presbyterian parity; but steadily appealed to the word of God, and primitive usage as their warrant; so the great and excellent men who came after them, with scarcely any important exception, took the same ground, and made the same appeal.

The learned Le Blanc, a French Protestant divine of great eminence, who flourished in the age immediately succeeding that of the Reformation, says,

" It is the most general opinion of the Eng" lish, that Episcopacy and Presbytery, are distinct " offices; but the rest of the Reformed, as also “ those of the Augustan Confession, (the Luther6 ans,) do unanimously believe that there is no “ such distinction by divine right; and that the " superiority of Bishops above Presbyters is only " of ecclesiastical right, and has been introduced " into the Church by degrees. In the ages after " the Apostles, a custom was introduced, that one " of the Presbyters should be chosen, by the votes u of the whole college, to preside over the other

« Presbyters ; and these, after a while, assumed

to themselves the name of Bishops, and, by de

grees, gained more and more prerogatives, and « brought their colleagues into subjection to them, “ until, at length, the matter grew up to that ty

ranny which now obtains in the Church of 66 Rome*.”

The very learned Chamier, a French Protestant divine of great distinction, contemporary with Beza, has been sometimes quoted by Episcopalians, as making concessions in favour of their cause The following quotation will show his opinion of ministerial imparity. “ Prelacy was not, by those “ who first began it, judged to be absolutely better " than Presbytery ; but only in a certain respect.

Upon the same account we may likewise say, " that equality among Pastors is better in a certain

respect, viz. for the avoiding of the tyranny of

a few over the rest of their brethren, yea, of one se over all. And how great an evil tyranny is, and “ how wide a gate was opened to it from the am. “ bition for this presidency, experience hath, long “ since, more than sufficiently shownt.” In an

of the same work, he speaks still more strongly—“ There is no one who doubts that this « custom of giving one Presbyter a presidency over “ the rest, was introduced by good men, and upon

a good design. Would to God that it had not

other part

[ocr errors]

* Thes. de Grad. Minist. f Panstrat. Tom. 11. Lib. 9. Cap. 14. § 11.

" rather arisen from carnal prudence, than from the direction of the Spirit! Would to God it had 66 been attended with as happy and prosperous suc

cess, as it was introduced with applause*.” In . the next chapter, after having shown at large how Episcopacy introduced the Papacy, he closes the account with the following remark—“ Thus human “ wisdom, if once it decline but ajot from the ori. “ ginal truth, becomes worse and worset."

M. Danau, a very eminent divine of the French Protestant Church, also contemporary with Beza, treating of the subject under consideration, thus writes. “ So long as the Apostolic Constitution " continued in the Church, the Presbyters that la" boured in the word and doctrine differed not at

all from Bishops. But after that, by the ambi- tion of those who presided over other Presby" ters, and took to themselves the name of Bishops, " the Apostolical form and discipline was abolish" ed; then the Bishops began to be distinguished " even from those Presbyters that preached the * word ; and to these Bishops, contrary to God's " word, the whole dignity was ascribed; scarcely

any part thereof being left to the Presbyters ;

which thing, and the ambition of the Bishops, " did in time ruin the whole Church, as the fact " of the Papacy itself proclaims: And so the " Apostolic Episcopacy was abolished, and a hui

* Panstrat. Lib. 10. Cap. 5. § 22.

Ibid. Cap. 6. § 18.

man Episcopacy began, from which sprang the “ satanic Episcopacy, as it now is in the Papacy. “ – The distinction of a Bishop from a preaching “ Presbyter is juris pontificii, of Pontifician and

positive right, being brought in after the foun.. “ dations of the tyranny of the Bishops were laid ; “ but is not of divine right*.”

The celebrated Bochart, a French Protestant divine of great learning and authority, has often been quoted by Episcopal writers, as having expressed himself in favour of Prelacy. The following declarations from his pen are found in a letter which he wrote to Dr. Morley, an English Bishop, who had requested his opinion on the subject. « In the “ office of Overseer or Bishop, there are three " things which we must not mix together,—the

Treo Butegsoy, i. e. the Eldership, or Pastoral office, “ which Scripture ascribes to the Overseer or Bi“ shop ;-the unigoxin's, i. e. the pre-eminence above “ other pastors, which the ancient Church added “ to the Bishop; and the lordship over God's heri

tage which some in these last times have stren. “ uously advocated. The first of these is of divine authority; the second of ecclesiastical authority; and the third of neither, but a mere “ abuse. The first, the Church cannot dispense “ with ; the second may be borne ; but the third

ought at once to be rooted out.”-In answer to Bishop Morley's question, whether it was better

* Dangi Controo. 5. Lib. I. Cap. 14.

for the English Church to be governed by Presbyters than by Bishops, Bochart replies—“ The “ Episcopal government was not of divine, but ecclesiastical appointment ; but since the English “ Church has hitherto been governed by Bishops, that form of government may

and can with propriety be borne. For every where men live ; but

men cannot live every where in the same way. “ As in political society some prefer being govern“ ed by one, and others by many; so it is in eccle" siastical society. In England they are so accus“ tomed to Episcopal government, that though of

no divine or apostolical authority, it cannot be

dispensed with. In other places, government " by Overseers, or Ministers, or Presbyters, is “ preferred. But in Churches which have never “ been governed by Bishops, they may be dispens“ ed with, even though the civil government be 5 monarchical; since this new institution, of human origin, sprung merely from pride and ambie tion, and has never been of the least advantage to “ the Church, which in every change of things “ ought always to be contemplated. And since it u will neither diminish nor increase the glory of a

Prince, whether he receive his crown from a Bi.

shop or Pastor.”—In another part of the same letter, he says—“ If you ask for the opinions of " the Ancients, I entirely agree with Jerome, that, " in the Apostolic times, there was no difference " between Bishops and Presbyters, or Elders, and

« PrécédentContinuer »