« PrécédentContinuer »
retired from the Synod three months before, on account of indisposition,) gives a different account of the matter. Bishop Carleton himself, tells us that, in his speech, besides declaring his belief in the divine appointment of Prelacy, he launched out in praise of this form of ecclesiastical government, and spoke of its benign effects in England, in promoting union, order, and harmony in the Church of that kingdom. To all this, Bishop Hall says, the only answer made was by the President, Bogerman, who simply replied," Domine, nos non sumus adeo fælices." My Lord, we are not so happy*. Now as Bishop Carleton, who made the speech, declares that no answer was given to it by any one; as Heylin asserts that it was treated with neglect, if not with scorn; and as Bishop Hall was not himself present, at this time, in the Synod; the probability is, that he has given an erroneous statement. But suppo sing it to be perfectly correct, to what does it amount? It might have been intended as a delicate sarcasm on the Bishop, for his unseasonable introduction of this controversy. It might have been uttered as a mere compliment to a stranger, who was a Prelate, and with whom it was not desirable to have any dispute, when the object of the Synod was so entirely different. It might have been meant only to convey the idea, that the Church of Holland was not so happy as to be in that quiet, united, and orderly state, which had been represent
* Hall's Episcopacy by Divine Right, &c. Part 1. § 4.
ed as existing in the Church of England. At any rate the answer is perfectly equivocal, and furnishes no warrant whatever for the construction of my opponents.
But these gentlemen lay no small stress on an other circumstance. Bishop Carleton, in the same Protestation which was before quoted, informs us, that," in his private discourse with some of the most learned divines of the Synod, he told them "that the troubles of Holland proceeded from their "want of Bishops; and that the Churches of those "Provinces would never be quiet until they had "Bishops to govern the Clergy." To these remarks, he tells us, they answered," that they high"ly esteemed the good order and discipline of the "Church of England, and heartily wished the "same order was established in their country; but "that they could not hope for it, in the present "posture of affairs. They added, that they hoped "God would assist them by his grace, and that 66 they would contribute with all their might to the "establishment of that good order." "Such," the Bishop adds, " was their answer to me. This, "I think, justifies them sufficiently. It appears "that they do not love popular confusion, and a
government destitute of all authority." Mr. How must really be at a loss for testimony, when he can speak with so much exultation of this answer. It is nothing to the purpose. The Bishop, according to his own account, had been declaiming on the advantages of Episcopal government, and
on its influence as he supposed, in promoting the tranquillity, and happiness of the Church which he represented. To this, the Dutch divines, according to the same account, replied, that they had a very respectful opinion of the good order and discipline of the Church of England, and heartily wished that similar order and discipline were established in their own Church. But what did they mean by the "good order" and " discipline" of the Church of England? Did they mean her Prelacy? This is so far from being certain that it is not even probable. There is every reason to believe they only meant to say, that they highly esteemed the regular, settled, and orderly state which the English Church had attained; that they should be glad to see a similar regularity, and quietness established. among themselves; but that, amidst so much confusion, they could hardly expect so happy a result. The truth is, the peace of the Church of Holland was, at this time, much disturbed by the controversy with the Remonstrants, which deeply agitated both Church and State. In these circumstances, nothing was more natural than that the members of the Synod should lament their divisions, and express a desire to establish among themselves the same quietness and peace which the Church of England enjoyed; and all this they might say without having the least wish or preference in favour of her Prelacy.
This, then, is the state of the case. The Reformed Church of Holland was Presbyterian from
the beginning. By a succession of national $ynods the doctrine of ministerial parity was asserted, published, and maintained, in the most decisive manner, not merely as dictated by expediency, but also as founded in divine appointment. The Synod of Dort spoke the same language, and maintained the same doctrine. Nay, with a solemnity which had taken place at no preceding Synod, the members of that assembly, under the obligation of an oath, declared, that they considered themselves as bound to conform to the Apostolic model of Church government, and that this model was Presbyterian. And to all this evidence, Mr. How has nothing to oppose, but a few equivocal words of some indivi dual members of the Synod, which probably had no reference to Prelacy at all. Who, now, let me ask, has proved himself most liable to the charges of "extreme imprudence," and of having brought forward" puerile" and "disingenuous" allegations? Truly charges of this kind come with a very ill grace from Mr. How.
But we have another method of ascertaining the real sentiments of some of those Divines who composed the Synod of Dort, besides their public conduct in that body. I mean by examining their private writings, in which we may take for granted they expressed their genuine convictions. From such of those writings as I have been able to procure, a few short extracts will be presented, and will be found conclusive.
Gomarus, Professor of Divinity at Groningen,
was one of the most eminent of the Dutch delegates to that famous Synod. On the subject of Episcopacy, he expresses himself in the following strong and decisive language. "The designation "of Bishop, as introduced after the Apostles' "time, is unknown to the Scriptures, in which it "signifies the same thing with the Presbyter and 66 Pastor. Where Paul recites the various kinds "of Gospel ministers, as in Ephes. 4. 11, he ac"knowledges no such Bishops distinct from Pres"byters, and superior to them. To which purpose Jerome's judgment is memorable, which is "extant in his commentary on the Epistle to Titus 66 1. 1, where, comparing the 5th and 7th verses, ❝he infers that the Bishop and Presbyter are one "and the same. Which point he doth, likewise, (C (in the same manner that we have done,) deἐς monstrate from Philip. 1. 1, and Acts xx. 28, "29. and other passages connected therewith, con"cluding all with this weighty assertion, that with "the ancients, Bishops and Presbyters were one "and the same; until, by degrees, the care and inspection were put upon one; and that the Bi"shops were set over the Presbyters, rather by "custom than by divine appointment. This custom, continues Gomarus, did, at last, bring upon "the Church, the mischievous dominion of Bishops, contrary to the Apostle's command*.” Again," There is no Bishop to be found set
Explicat. Epist. ad Galatas, Cap. 11. p. 487.