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bition existed ? Above all, how could it be aca quired so quietly, and with so little opposition, as that the several steps of its progress should not be found recorded by the early Fathers ? Again ; in the age of Cyprian, we find Sub-deacons and Readers spoken of as distinct orders of Clergy, who had each a distinct ordination*. How could these orders be introduced, in an age, which, according to Dr. B. was so perfectly pure, and so strict in its adherence to apostolic precedent? How could Readers and Sub-deacons be ranked among the Clergy ? This single fact is enough to show, that before the age of Cyprian, undisguised innovation had found its way into the Church ; and also that, when Deacons are spoken of, by some of the Fathers, as ministers of the word, and as of the order of Clergy, it affords not the smallest presumption that such was the apostolic model.
As another proof, that a spirit of ambition and of ecclesiastical encroachment, early began to appear in the Church, I mentioned the rise and progress of the Papacy. I observed, that the antichristian claims of the Bishop of Rome began as early as the time of Irenæus, and might be consi. dered as gradually rising from that period, until he was at length established and acknowledged as universal Bishop. And I observed, moreover, that, “ although the most impartial and learned
Cyprian. Epist. 8. and 39.
« divines may and do differ among themselves in
fixing the several dates of the rise, progress, and “ establishment of this great spiritual usurper ; yet “ the fact, that he did thus rise and advance, “ and erect a tyrannical throne in the Church, “ contrary to all that might have been expect“ ed both from the piety and the selfishness of “ the early Christians, is doubted by none.”
In answer to this argument Dr. Bowden ventures to assert, that “there is not, before the seventh ceno “ tury, the least trace of any system of policy in " the Holy See, (that of Rome,) to establish “ its claim of superiority over other Bishops.” Of an assertion of this kind, I really feel at a loss what to think, or what to say. That it is an assertion which directly contradicts all history, I need not stay to demonstrate. Every well-informed man knows it to be so. The only question which can arise is, how Dr. Bowden could have ventured to advance it? . By the Papacy, strictly speaking, is meant that claim which the Bishop of Rome has long made of being, as such, the successor of Peter, superior to all other Bishops, and the visible Head of the Church. No man in his senses ever supposed that this system of ecclesiastical usurpation was either claimed or acknowledged all at once. It had a rise, a progress, and a completion. That it did not reach its summit until the seventh century, I have no hesitation in granting. Nor have I ever penned a sentence inconsistent with this acknowledge
ment. But that it began to rise several centuries before, every Protestant historian that I have ever met with, has unequivocally stated: And that it made slow, but steady progress, from the time of Victor to that of Boniface, insomuch, that at the end of every successive century, it was perceived to have sensibly gained ground, I took for granted, before I saw Dr. Bowden's book, that every man who regarded his reputation, either for discernment or candour, would readily allow. Nay, Dr. Bowden himself, if I understand him, acknowledges that the power of the Popes was gradually assumed; for “ the several epochs of their increasing power," he tells us, have been so distinctly marked, that we can be at no loss to ascertain them. And yet he says, " there was not, before the seventh
century, the least trace of any system of policy “ in the Holy See to establish its claim of superiori
ty over other Bishops !” Unless this gentleman can retreat behind some unusual signification of terms, I know not how he can escape very serious charges from every discerning reader.
I consider the following facts, then, as perfectly established-viz. that as early as the second and third centuries there was quite enough clerical ambition in the Church to account for the rise of
prelacy; that the acknowledged rise of Metropolitans, during that period, is a proof, at once, that there was a disposition among many of the clergy to as. pire after pre-eminence, and that it was by no
means an impossible thing so far to hoodwink and cajole others, as to obtain it; and that the beginning, progress, and establishment of the Papal power, is quite as difficult to be accounted for on Episcopal principles, as the introduction of Prelacy by human authority. But, if it be fact, that there were materials enough in the clergy of that age, and circumstances enough in the times, to generate irregular anbition; and if other facts demonstrate that they did cherish this ambition ; that they did thus aspire and encroach; then we are surely warranted in inferring that the human invention and introduction of prelacy, was not only a possible, but a very probable event.
Among the numerous facts which prove that diocesan Episcopacy is an innovation on the apostolic model, and that it was gradually introduced, I mentioned in my former letters, that ministerial parity continued longest in those parts of the Church which were at the greatest distance from the capital cities. As an instance, to illustrate this remark, I observed, that " the Churches in Scotá land remained Presbyterian in their government, " from the introduction of Christianity into that
country, in the second century, until the fifth
century, when Palladius succeeded in introduc“ ing diocesan Bishops.” This fact Dr. Bowden entirely denies. Let us see on what evidence it
That the gospel was introduced into North Britain before the fifth century, is evident from
Tertullian, who says, “ The places of Britain to « which the Romans could not have access, are 6 notwithstanding subject to Christ*.” Fordon, a Scotch historian, who wrote in the fourteenth cen.' tury, and who was no Presbyterian, on the one hand declares, (as Dr. B. acknowledges, that the Scots received the christian faith in the year
of Lord 203 ; and on the other asserts, (what Dr. B. has not acknowledged,) that “ Before the coming “ of Palladius, the Scots, following the custom of “ the primitive Church, had teachers of the faith, " and dispensers of the sacraments, who were only “ Presbyters or Monkst." This statement is confirmed by Major, another Scottish historian, who wrote about the beginning of the sixteenthcentury, and who lived and died a friend of prelacy.. He declares, “ The Scots were instructed in the faith, by Priests and Monks, without Bishops.” Boethius, a third historian of Scotland, who was contemporary with Major, and also a prelatist, still more explicitly says,
66 Palladius was the FIRST who exercised any hierarchal power among the “ Scots, being ordained their Bishop by the Pope,
whereas, before, their Priests were, by the suff
rages of the people, chosen out of the Monks and “ Culdeesg.” Prosper Aquitanæus, in his Chronicle, has these words-“ Palladius is ordained by “ Pope Cælestine, for the Scots, who had already “ believed in Christ, and is sent to them to be their
* Contra Jud. Cap. vii. † Hist. Lib. iii. Cap. 8. # De Gestis Scotor. Lib. ii. Cap. 2. f Scot. Hist. Lib. vi.