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“ over Presbyters in any place of holy writ. The “ distinguishing of Bishops from Presbyters, and “ setting them over Presbyters, in an authoritative “ Prelacy, took its rise from no Divine institution, " but from human tradition, which had its founda" tion in pride*."
Polyander, Thysius, and Walcus, Professors of Divinity in the Universities of Leyden, Harderwick, and Middelburg, were also conspicuous and active members of the Synod of Dort. These learned Divines were engaged in a joint work, under the title of Synopsis Theologiæ, which has been long highly esteemed in the Church of Holland. Of that work, the following strong and decisive passages are a specimen.
“ The Apostle calls the same persons Presby. “ ters and Bishops indifferently. Of this we have “ examples, in Acts 20, 28, where he exhorts the “ Presbyters of the Church of Ephesus to attend to “ the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made " them Bishops ;-also in 1 Timothy 3, 2. where 6 he describes a Bishop from his qualifications and “ duties, which same qualifications and duties, the " Apostle Peter ascribes to his fellow-Presbyters; « so also in his Epistle to the Philippians 1. 1. by
Bishops he evidently understands those who pre“ sided over the Church of Philippi, in the admin“ istration of the word and discipline; and these " he distinguishes from Deacons who were entrust66 ed with the Church's treasure, &c. &c." After adducing several other instances of a similar kind, it is added, " The title of Bishop in Scripture does
* Explicat, in 1 Pet. 5. p. 704.
not denote the authority of one minister over “ other ministers of Christ, or any kind of prero« gative enjoyed by one over others; but is mere“ ly used to designate that watch and care over the " Church which belongs to an individual.”
Again, “ The practice, therefore, of investing
one person from among the Presbyters with the “ authority of President, and giving him, by way “ of eminence, the title of Bishop, was not a divine, “ but a mere human appointment, and was brought “ in after the Apostles' time ; as, after Jerome,
many of the Papists themselves confess, particularly Lombard, Gratian, Cusan, and others."
Further, “ The right of choosing Pastors be" longs to the Church, and as well to the body of " the people as to the Elders; but the right of or“ dination belongs to the Presbytery alone. And “ accordingly, in ancient times, the election of Pas
tors was made by the suffrages of the whole bo“ dy of the people belonging to a Church; but the “ ordination was performed by one of the Pastors, " in the name of the whole Presbytery, and in the
presence of the Church, by the imposition of .66 hands."
In another place they declare, “ Although a few " of the first Pastors of our Churches were ordain" ed by Bishops, by far the greater part have been " more recently ordained by Presbyters. The or
“ dination of the latter is quite as valid as that of “ the former ; because Bishops and Presbyters “ were formerly the same thing; and by divine
right, the power of ordaining Pastors equally “ belonged to both*.”
In the same work, these Divines, in the most explicit manner, assert the apostolical institution of Ruling Elders and Deacons ; the former to assist the Pastor in the exercise of government and discipline in each Church ; the latter to take care of the poor. And they expressly declare, that they consider the Church of Holland, in retaining these officers, as following the example of the Apostolic Churchf.”
You will pardon me, my Brethren, for this long, and I fear, tedious induction of authorities and quotations. It never occurred to me, before I saw Mr. How's pamphlet, that it was possible for any well-informed man, who valued his reputation, to give such a statement as that gentleman has done of the sentiments of the principal divines of the Reformed Churches. We now see of what he is capable. The next step will probably be to assert, that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, ever has been, and now is, decidedly Prelatical both in its principles and practice. For, really, such an assertion would not be a whit more unfounded, norfly more direct
Synop. Pur. Theologie. Disputat. XLII. $ 27, 30.32, 33, 47! † Ibid. Disputat. XLII. 20. 59, 60, 65.
ly in the face of all authentic testimony, than several which I have been called to refute in the foregoing pages. It is plain, however, that the more deeply and extensively we pursue our inquiries, the stronger and brighter appears the evidence in favour of the Presbyterian doctrine. It is more and more manifest, that, in pleading the cause of this doctrine, we are pleading the cause of every Protestant Church on earth, excepting that of England, and those who claim descent from her as their parent.
Rise and Progress of Prelacy.
DR. Bowden represents Presbyterians as believing that Prelacy was suddenly and violently established; that " a wonderful revolution took place, “ calculated to influence the passions of thousands, “ producing violent convulsions, and virulent ani“ mosities.” And expresses great astonishment that such a revolution, introduced at once, should not have been more distinctly recorded by the early writers.
This is a total misrepresentation. Presbyterians believe and affirm, with Jerome, that Prelacy arose. “ by little and little.” They attribute its introduction to causes quite sufficient to account for the fact, without producing the convulsions and noise which fill the imagination of Dr. Bowden. These causes were, the facility, the indolence, and the inconsideration of some; the ambition of others ; the precedency of standing moderators; the veneration paid to senior ministers, and such as were of superior talents and influence ; the respect attached to those who resided in large cities, and other considerations of a similar kind. With such