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ligion, and it was said among the people, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, the churches were governed by the common council of presbyters." *
Respecting the election of officers, Clement of Rome cites as an apostolic rule in regard to church offices “that they should be filled according to the judgment of approved men, with the consent of the whole community.” Cyprian, in the middle of the third century, required that the bishop be invested with his office" by the suffrage of the whole brotherhood and of the bishops present," and he urges the people to care in the selection of officers, for the reason that “they especially have the power either of electing worthy presbyters or of rejecting unworthy ones," and affirms that this right of choice by the people was observed in his day as resting on divine authority and apostolic usage.Origen asserted that the presence of the people was required in the ordination of a presbyter to secure the election of the most worthy. I The Apostolical Constitutions, belonging probably toward the end of the third century, declare that the bishop is a "select person, chosen by the whole people.” The clearest proofs exist that many of the distinguished bishops of the Patristic period were chosen by the voice of the people, as Cyprian, of Carthage, Ambrose, of Milan, Martin, of Tours, Eustathius, of Antioch, Chrysostom, of Constantinople, and others. Even the Roman Pontifical, in the order for the ordination of a presbyter, recognizes the principle of popular suffrage, the bishop saying: “It was not without reason that the Fathers ordained that the advice of the people should be taken in the election of those persons who were to serve at the altar; to the end that, having given their assent to their ordination, they might the
* Commentary on Titus. † Ep. lxviii. 5. | Hom. vi.s on Lev. & Book viii. 8; 4 cf. 16.
more readily yield obedience to those who were so ordained.”
That the church, as a congregation, was the ultimate appeal in matters of discipline during the first three centuries rests upon equally clear testimony. Cyprian, speaking of the trial of certain offenders, declares that they “shall be tried, not only in the presence of his colleagues, but before the whole people;”+ and he quotes an African synod as ordaining that, “except in danger of death or of sudden persecution, none
, should be received to the peace of the church without the knowledge and consent of the people.” I Du Pin, an eminent Roman Catholic writer, after citing at great length the language of Cyprian addressed to Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, says: “From whence it is plain that both at Rome and at Carthage no one could be expelled from the church, or restored again, except with the consent of the people.” § Origen, at Cæsarea, and Chrysostom, at Constantinople, speak with equal distinctness on the right of the people to determine matters of discipline.
The fact is, moreover, everywhere obvious that the charge of a primitive bishop was, not over a diocese as now understood, but over a single church or congregation. This is shown by undoubted authorities. Campbell, an eminent Episcopalian historian, after quoting many Fathers of the second and third centuries, among others Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, and Cyprian, concludes: “Now, from the writings of these Fathers it is evident that the whole flock assembled in the same place, epi to auto, with their bishop and presbyters, as on other
* Pontific. Rom. in Ordinat. Presbyter, fol. 38. † Ep. xxxiv. Ep. lix. & De Antiqua Disciplina.
occasions, so in particular every Lord's Day-or every Sunday, as it was commonly called-for the purpose of public worship, hearing the Scriptures read, and receiving spiritual exhortations. . . . Again, as there was but one place of meeting, so there was but one communion-table, an altar, as they sometimes metaphorically called it. There is but one altar,' said Ignatius, 'for there is but one bishop,' and accordingly but one place of worship." A further evidence that the primitive bishop presided over only a single congregation is seen in the fact that in the comparatively small territory of North Africa there were six hundred and ninety bishoprics, many of them known to embrace only a small town or village. Diocesan episcopacy did not become common till the fourth century, when the church was modelled after the empire. Ignatius is the only authority for the episcopacy during the first three centuries, and even he everywhere speaks of the bishop as over only one congregation, or parish. Of the fifteen epistles attributed to the Father, Archbishop Wake accepts seven as genuine, and Archbishop Usher only six; all the rest are unanimously rejected by Protestants as spurious. Of the seven accepted by Wake, the Chevalier Bunsen has proved four to be forgeries and the remaining three to be badly interpolated. The fair-minded Neander, the profoundest student of this Father, regards one only as having decided marks of genuineness. Bishop Stillingfleet, in his Irenicum, says: “Of all the thirty testimonials produced out of Ignatius in his epistle for episcopacy, I can meet with but one which is brought to prove the least semblance of an institution of Christ for episcopacy; and if I be not much deceived, the sense of that place is clearly mistaken.”
A multitude of other authorities might be adduced; but these, which are the highest in church history, suffice to show that the profoundest historical investigations confirm the view of the divine constitution of the church here derived from Scripture. And we close the subject with the words of Dr. Schaff: “The spirit and practice of the apostles thus favored a certain kind of popular self-government and the harmonious, fraternal co-operation of the different elements of the church. It countenanced no abstract distinction of clergy and laity. All believers are called to the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices in Christ. The bearers of authority and discipline should, therefore, never forget that their great work is to train the governed to freedom and independence, and by the various spiritual offices to form gradually the whole body of believers to the unity of faith and knowledge, and to the perfect manhood of Christ."
THE CHRISTIAN ORDINANCES.
RELIGION has in all ages found expression in symbolism. The sacrifice instituted at the Fall symbolized at once the confession of sin by the offerer, and the approach of a sinner to God only through the vicarious death of an innocent victim. The passover, in the blood of the slain lamb put on the lintel and door-posts of each house, signified the guilt and danger of the household, and their deliverance from God's judgment only through the blood of another slain for them. The Mosaic economy was one vast system of symbolism representing divine truth, The tabernacle, the sacrifices, the lustrations, the festivals, all the forms, were symbolic; they were significant acts expressive alike of the great truths of religion and of the profession of the worshipper's faith in them. The Christian religion, also, as instituted by Christ, has its symbolism-a symbolism far simpler indeed, but far more expressive and beautiful, than that of the Old Testament.