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this officer, found in the New Testament, furnishing us with any other light upon the responsibility of the deacons. If we impose any thing farther upon them, we must derive our authority for doing so, not from any thing ordained or affirmed concerning them specifically in the scriptures, but from the general nature of the office, or meaning of the term, or else from the collateral lights that have reached us concerning the primitive usages.
If any one has found, or can discover from the scriptures alone, that deacons, in the primitive order, were ever appointed for any other duty than this one, of taking care of the destitute, by collecting and appropriating the bounty of the church for their comfort and support, we would like to see the evidence of it. We, of course, include in this duty every thing necessary to its being well performed, and, therefore, regard the deacons of a congregation as occupying a rank of high trust; and filling a station calculated to give them great honor and influence among the brethren, which, as members of the kingdom, they must not neglect to employ, by any means in their power, for the advancement of the truth, and the honor of the Lord.
In the discharge of this duty there would, necessarily, arise cases in which men could not, with propriety, act; especially in a country, like the East, where the social intercourse between the sexes was restricted by so many forms; and, therefore, we find that into this order females were introduced, evidently by apostolic sanction. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, xvi. 1., speaks of Phæbe, as a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many, especially of himself; and in the 1 Epistle to Timothy, iii. 11-12, we interpret him as describing their qualifications for office.
How benevolent and wise this arrangement, and how diligent and faithful ought those to be who are entrusted with the delightful charge of ministering, to the sick and needy, those comforts which the church may provide; for inasmuch as you have done it unto even the least of these my little ones, you have done it unto me! Why it is that this apostolic plan, of constituting the deaconship, has been so universally neglected, by the various denominations, does not appear, we think, from the scriptures. Upon reformation principles, a precedent so plainly set forth in the New Testament, cannot, consistently, be disregarded; and, we know, that whilst some congregations may not have acted so scripturally upon this subject, as the truth requires, it is generally regarded, among our brethren, as an ese ential element in the restoration of primitive order, to ordain, in every church, both deacons and deaconesses.
Thus have we, by a careful induction, gathered from the scriptures all that they teach us concerning the two official ranks, in the Christian church, to-wit, Elders and Deacons; but in doing so we have gone upon the assumption that elders and bishops are in office the same. But inasmuch as this is a point upon which there is a practical di. versity of opinion, among the religionists of the day, we deem it not unworthy of a fair and scriptural examination.
The proof upon this subject may not be manifold; but to one filled with a due reverence for the Sacred Oracles, and a proper respect to apostolic authority, it cannot but be entirely sufficient. The use of the two terms, interchangeably, and that in their proper official sense, ought to be regarded as a sufficient indication of the apostolic will concerning them; and to convince every word-reverencing man that between bishops and elders they recognized no official difference. In the 17th verse of Acts, and 29th chapter, it is said that Paul, who was at Miletus, “Sent to Ephesus and called the elders (preshuterous) of the church;” when they had arrived he addressed them, in a very solemn and impressive manner, upon their official responsibilities. In this address he says, "Take heed, therefore, to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (episkopous,) that is, bishops. Now, it is beyond the ingenuity of sectarian criticism to say that the same officers here convoked as elders are not addressed as bishops. It is most evident, too, that this latter term was used as a common official title; for, while the metaphor of a flock was in the Apostle's mind, he would hardly have rejected its natural correlate, pastor, and ema ployed the term bishop, had this not been a common and fixed official title. In proper metaphorical style, we do not say overseers or bishops of a flock, bút pastors; and as this latter term is thus fre. quently and beautifully employed in the scriptures, yet, in this place, although so evidently indicated by the style, rejected for another, having no proper metaphorical relation to the figure of a flock, by which the church is represented, we conclude that it must have been because the term selected was one of established techni. cal import, and therefore used officially.
Not to insist farther on this point; let us hear this same apostle, in his directions to Peter. After telling him (chap. I v. 5,) that he had left him in Crete for the purpose of ordaining elders (presbuterous) in every city, lest Titus might be misled by these very gen. eral instructions and ordain elders, whether worthy or not, he pro. ceeds to place certain limitations to the injunction;-as, “If any be blameless,” &c., adding by way of reason, "for a bishop (episkopos) SERIES IH.-VOL. V.
must be blameless.” Now, can any man, in his senses, suppose that such a logician as Paul would give, as a reason for restricting Titus in the ordination of elders, to such as were blameless, &c., that bishops must be blameless, unless by brshops and elders he meant the same officers! Suppose I were to say, that no man shall be elected to the office of Judge unless he was honest, and assign as a reason that kings must be honest, would not every one see at once that unless I meant to say, that judges are kings, I would be speaking nonsense? Just so with Paul, unless with him elders and bishops áre the same, his reasoning is both inconsequential and incoherent.
In 1 Pet. v. 1, the style is very similar to that of Paul in Acts. The elders which are among you, he says, I exhort: Feed the flock of God, which is with you, exercising the overseer's office, (episkopountes) or discharging the office of bishops, not by constraint, but willingly, &c. That the terms are used promiscuously, none can deny; and, it must also be conceded, that this could not have been done, with propriety, if those distinctions, which now obtain between bishops and presbyters, or elders, had been at that time recognized; for it will have been observed, that the elders, who are now ranked as inferior to bishops, are called, in apostolic style, by these titles; and as the less cannot include the greater, although the greater may include the less, we cannot, by any ingenuity of construction, find, in the usage of the apostles, an argument for episcopal supremacy. The apostle Paul called himself a minister or deacon; but a deacon, simply, is never called an apostle; so if the bishops were really superior to the elders, they might, nevertheless, be sometimes called elders; but in that ease elders could never be called bishops, as the apostle styles them, in the cases referred to. “The truth is," to adopt the language of Doctor George Campbell, “the word episkopos (bishop) was properly the name of an office, and presbiteros (elder) was a title of respect, borrowed from the Jewish custom (which was, indeed, analogous to that of other nations,) of calling not only the members of the Sanhedrim presbuteroi, elders or deacons, but also the members of the city councils.”
It would seem to one imbued with a proper sense of the paramount authority of the scriptures, in all matters of discipline, that where a clear scriptural proof, that the apostles did regard and speak of elders and bishops as the same in office, could be given, controversy should cease, and tradition be silent; but inasmuch as the argument has been pushed beyond this, its sufficient conclusion, it may
proper, very briefly, to advert to what is alleged by the advocates of episcopal supremacy, as evidence in their favor, drawn
from the apostolic fathers. " In doing so, however, it is not to be un. derstood that we consider these as of binding authority in any case; but merely as explanatory to what may not be altogether clear in scriptural allusions. Were an apostolic father, therefore, to speak contrary to the teachings of the apostles, we should not regard it proper to pay the least respect to what he might say; but if any thing, in the writings of the apostles, should be left obscure, or not fully explained, we should have no objection to receiving any light upon the subject, which one, personally known to them and their principles, could give us; provided, always, it was not inconsistent with other things, taught us by the apostles, free from ambiguity and doubt. As, therefore, we consider the teachings of the apos. tles, as to the official identity of elders and bishops, to be not only unambiguous, but conclusive beyond a reasonable doubt, nothing which an apostolic father could say, could, in the least, affect our conclusions on this subject.
Yet, as our minds are so constitnted, as to feel it strange, that one, well acquainted with the customs of the apostles, should, so near to their day, teach any thing contrary to their lessons, wę cannot, when we hear it affirmed, but experience more or less dis. satisfaction, and desire to examine into the matter to see if there is nut some solution to it at once true and sufficient; and we enter upon the inquiry the more readily, from the conviction that, as truth is always consistent with itself, these fathers, in favor of whose knowledge and veracity there is a strong presumption, cannot be found, when faithfully represented and rightly understood, to differ: at all from the apostles. It is the same feeling and the same confidence with which we desire to meet and seek an iv.vestigation, with the sceptical geologist. We are sure, before we have learned the meaning of fossil-remains, that nothing has been found which the author of the Bible did not know all about, for he had created it and laid it there, in the ages of his own appointment; and, therefore, we not only do not fear, but anxiously desire to see uncovered all the wonders of his hand; confident that his wisdom and his power are always in harmony. With the patience of our readers, then, we shall endeavor, at our next sitting, to say a few things upon the au• thority of the apostolic fathers, concerning this long arrogated claim of episcopal supremacy, und if we do not overturn, as we have no hope that we will, this cherished error of a lordly hierarchy, we trust, at least, to be able to give good reasons for not embracing it ourselves.
W. K. P.
NEWS FROM THE CHURCHES.
Colemansville, Kentucky, March 5, 1818. We have had several additions since the first of January last--some seven or eight.
L. C. M.MURTRY. Van Buren, March 7, 1818, Tuesday morning. Beloved brother Campbell—I am here, in good health, about 1500 miles from home, laboring in the good cause of the reformation, for which you have sacrificed so much and nobly struggled for a quarter of a century. The success has been far beyond the expectations of the most sanguine. Thank the Lord that your writings ever fell in my way! I shall ever feel the debt of gratitude that you taughi me how to read the Bible, the Book of the Lord. It imparts to me a happiness that no language can tell.
1. I stopped at Little Rock with brethren Rice and Dearborn, one of your pupils, and labored a week. There were about 7, or 8, or 9 additions when I left.
2. I reached here and labored a week. The result was 12 additions, amidst a cloud of opposition and the smoke of mysticism which had been raised by a revival effort of the sects. 3. I visited Fayetteville, 52 miles north, and labored 12 days with great
We had about 35 additions, and organized a church 50 strong, with Elders and Deacons. We have 4 able Lawyers, an able Physician, and a distinguished Preacher from the Cumberland Presbyterians, in the congregation. I left them rejoicing!
4. I returned to Van Buren, and visited Oakland, a fine population, 10 miles from this place In 5 days we had about 18 or 20 additions, and organized a church 40 strong, with Elders and Deacons. The entire neighborhood is with us in feeling and sentiment, so far as I could ascertain. The combined powers of opposition cannot peril the cause at these places.' We gained some from the Presbyterians, the Cumberlands, the Methodists, and Baptists. We had a fine hearing, and many are convinced, who will, I trust, finally submit.
Brother Graham was with me several days at Fayetteville, and his eloquence and power were greatly appreciated. He obtained several scholarships there and here; and the prospect for subscribers for your inva'uable Harbinger is good. I expect to start in the stage in the morning for the Rock. I had one baptism here on Lord's day. I expect to organize this church to-night.
You could do great good by taking a travel next fall to the Rock, and thence on this route to St. Louis. I might agree to accompany you. This is a great country. The success of this precious cause is the only motive that could induce me to make such immense sacrifices of domestic happi
J. T. JOHNSON.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, March 13, 1848. Teaching brethren, visiting the South, will receive a hearty welcome if they will visit Baton Rouge.
C. G. M`HATTON.
Clarksville, Arkansas, March 20, 1818. I have been here since Thursday night. The people have given a fine hearing, and the public mind has been greatly enlightened. I regret that I cannot stay longer. This morning (Monday) I start in the stage for Little Rock, for home. We ought to have a first rate Evangelist in this stite. The face of things can be changed in twelve months. I defy the combined opposition at Fayetteville, Oakland, near Van Buren, and that region of country. This is a fine country, with a good population, and the reformation will prevail. The people here have never before had the matter properly set before them. Another effort here would establish the eause. Oh! that our brethren would awake!
J. T. JOHNSON,