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" that the Church was governed by a common “ council of Presbyters*.”
In this manner did Bochart, unquestionably one of the most learned men of his day, speak on the subject under consideration, when his opinion was formally requested. And when it is considered that he communicated this opinion to a respectable Prelate ; and, of course, had every inducement to speak as favourably of the English hierarchy as possible, the quotation carries with it peculiar weight.
But none of the writers of the Reformed Churches have been quoted, by our Episcopal brethren, with more confidence, as a witness in their favour, than the very learned and celebrated M. Claude. The following quotation leaves no room to doubt what were his real sentiments on the subject in dispute.
" The Apostles have left no successors in their “ office, which was unique. It was an extraordi.
nary office; and they continue to teach and in - struct the Church in all ages, by their writings. “ The Apostles first collected Churches by their
preaching. These Churches, when assembled, “ with their advice and assistance, appointed their “ own Presbyters or Elders, Overseers or Bishops; “ and they received the symbol, or ceremonial in. “ vestiture of office, by the laying on of the hands
* See Outhof's Verklaringe over denbrief aan Titus. p. 294. $ 210. and p. 297, 298. § 620
* of the Presbytery or Eldership : The office itself “ being conferred, and the vocation made by the C election of the Church, And so scrupulous “ were the Apostles in appointing this order of " things, which was to remain in the Church, that,
in their presence, the ordination rite was performed by the laying on of the hands of the " Presbytery*."
Again, he says, “As to ordinations of this kind, " (by Presbyters,) can the Author be ignorant " that the distinction of Bishop and Presbyter, as
expressive of different offices, is a distinction " which not only cannot be proved by the Scrip
tures; but which contradicts their express lan“guage, in which it is plain that Bishop and Pres“ byter are only different names expressive of the same office ?
Can this author be ignorant of the e opinion of St. Jerome, of Hilary, the Deacon, “ and, after them, of Hincmar, which they have
so explicitly given, concerning the unity or iden
tity of the office of Bishop and Presbyter, in the “ earliest ages of the Church; and concerning the “ origin of that distinction which afterwards took " place between them? Can he be ignorant that
St. Augustine himself, writing to St. Jerome, re.“ fers that distinction, not to the primitive institu" tion of the ministry, but merely to an ecclesiasti
cal custom, which had since grown up? Can
* Historical Defence of the Reformation, 4to. Edit. 1673. P. iv. C. 3. p. 342.
" he be ignorant that some of the fathers have “ taught us, that the ordination of a Presbyter and
a Bishop are strictly one and the same, and not “ different kinds of acts, sufficiently expressing to
us the identity of the offices? And as to the “ right of ordaining, can this author deny that St. " Paul speaks of the laying on of the hands of the
Presbytery? Can he deny that Presbyters ans ciently ordained equally with Bishops*?” Further, “ The right of ordination, therefore, is one " that naturally belongs to Presbyters. And since " they have been deprived of it by rules and con66 stitutions which are merely of human authority, " the right still remains essentially attached to “ their office, and they may justly reclaim it, when“ ever the state of the Church will permit. And " that I may declare my opinion with freedom, it
appears to me that the haughty and insolent “ opinion, which maintains the absolute necessity " of Episcopal ordinations, and, without them, an. -6 nihilates the Church, the ministry, and the sacra- ments, however pure the faith, the doctrine, and - the piety of the Church may be ;--thus making
religion depend on a form, and that form of • mere human invention ;-I repeat it, it appears
to me that this insolent opinion carries on it the it character of a shameful corruption; it bears the " mark of profound hypocrisy, of a pure pharisa.
ism, which strains at a gnat, while it swallows a camel. I cannot help having, at least, a deep con
Histor. Def. p. 372, 373.
“ tempt for such opinions, and compassion for those “ who are thus obstinate and headstrong in main“ taining them*."
In 1680, when Owen, Baxter, Alsop, Clarkson, Howe, and other eminent English Presbyterians, had written largely and ably in defence of their principles; the Episcopal writers, feeling themselves deficient in argument, made an attempt to support their cause, by soliciting some of the foreign Presbyterians to speak in their favour. For this purpose the Bishop of London, in that year, wrote to M. Claude, requesting him to give his opinion of English Presbyterianism. Claude returned a complaisant answer, expressing great respect for the English Church; gently blaming the Nonconformists for separating from it merely on a question of government; and explicitly conceding that salvation might be obtained, and every spiritual advantage received under the Episcopal regimer. Messieurs l'Angle and Le Moyne, being addressed in the same manner, wrote in a similar strain. These letters Bishop Stilling fleet subjoined to a work of his own, on The Unreasonableness of Separation, and pompously published as suffrages for Episcopacy; and ever since, they have been confidently quoted for the same purpose.
M. Claude complained that his Letter was pub. lished without his permission ; that a construction was put upon it, which he never intended; and that a use was made of it contrary to his wishes. These
Histor. Def. p. 374.
complaints were contained in Letters addressed to the Bishop of London, and to a Lady of his acquaintance, in the year 1681; which, however, the Episcopalians of England took care never to publish ; and which were never given to the world until after the death of Claude, when they were brought to light by his son. The following extracts from these Letters will be sufficient to place the sentiments of the excellent writer in a just point of light.
“ I have received the Letter which you were “ pleased to send me from the Bishop of London, “ with the book which accompanied it. I shall " have the honour to reply to the Bishop, and to " thank him for the present which he hath sent
me. Nevertheless, Madam, as I learn from dif" ferent places, that many persons have not entire.
ly understood my sentiments and expressions,
touching the present state of the English Church, " I have believed that it would not be improper to
explain myself more particularly to you, and to " let you know the innocence of my thoughts and “ intentions. First; I can conscientiously declare so that when I wrote on the subject to the Bishop 56 of London, it was not with the intention that my " letter should be printed, or rendered public; and " that I have even been surprised and astonished
to see it as well in French as in English, at the end of the book which you have sent me, with
two others, one of Mons. M. and another of " Mons. A.But besides this, be assured, Ma.