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itself, How do we explain the early origin and universal prevalence of the Episcopal system in the ancient Church ?
As to its origin, we quote from Neander: “Since the presbyters constituted a deliberative assembly it would of course soon become the practice for one of their number to preside over the rest.
Soon after the Apostolic age, the standing office of president of the presbytery must have been formed; which president, as having pre-eminently the oversight over all, was designated by the special name of 'Exioxotos, and was thus distinguished from the other presbyters. Thus the name came at length to be applied exclusively to this presbyter, while the name presbyter continued at first to be common to all ; for the bishops, as presiding presbyters, had no official character other than that of the presbyters generally. There were only primi
The aristocratic constitution will ever find it easy, by various gradual changes, to pass over to the monarchical; and circumstances where the need becomes felt of guidance by the energy and authority of an individual, will have an influence above all things else to bring about such a change."
In this last sentence, it seems to us, Neander indicates the great cause of the rapid spread and speedy general prevalence of Episcopacy in the early Church. We are familiar with the idea that times of danger in a community favour the concentration of power in the fewest possible hands. In the early Church, there were continually occurring heresies within and persecution from without. To repress the former with authority, to rally their forces to withstand the latter, need was felt of acknowledged and capable single leaders in every church. In the great Decian persecution, for example, the ardour and wisdom of Cyprian would make men turn to him as a leader, and gladly submit to his authority. When the immediate danger was past, it was unnatural that this authority should be relinquished.
Again, popular self-government was a thing unknown in the political life of the time. All civilized men were subjects of the great Roman Empire. The idea of central authority, of order and peace secured by strong and absolute government, must have been continually present to all minds. There is a strong sympathy between men's feelings as to political and ecclesiastical matters. And so the drift of the Church toward a compact organization may have been partly due to the influence of the existing constitution of the State.
It is not the province of this Article to balance the advantages and evils of the Episcopal system of church government against each other. We have considered simply the historical question, "What was the origin of the Episcopate, as a distinct office ?" That it was not of Apostolic origin, seems shown by the facts, that there are no traces of the system in the New Testament; that the next earliest authority, Clement of Rome, says nothing of it, and strongly implies its non-existence in the Corinthian Church; that Ignatius, the first known advocate of the system, furnishes no proof that the Apostles founded it; that the first assertion of this is found at a time when there was a strong motive for believing it, and the opportunity for mistake; that Jerome gives a clear and well-sustained account of the gradual rise of the Episcopal order; and that the interchange of the words επίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος proves almost certainly the oriinal identity of the offices. It appears, therefore, that the distinct office of bishop originated in a simple presidency over the presbyters, at first adopted for convenience sake; that its growth in importance and its general establishment were due to the circumstances of the age, especially the various dangers which led to concentration of power, and the influence of the political habits of the time upon ecclesiastical organizations.
“ BEING ILL” AND “ GETTING BETTER.”
He who has passed from one end of life to the other without having had a severe illness, must have very much for which to be thankful; but he has also most undoubtedly some cause for regret. Perhaps he may never be able to learn the full meaning of the words “Being ill” and “Getting better,” for this may be the only state of existence in which the things expressed by these words can form a part of our experience.
Very wonderful experiences these are; made up of lessons hard to learn ; lessons full of pain, but with a few positive pleasures in them. The pain all can discover; the pleasure, only they who seek can find. Leaving quite alone the direct religious lessons and purposes which afflictions are intended to teach, and ought to accomplish,-purposes so inestimable that we have no measure by which to measure them, let us look at some of the minor benefits which the “Being ill ” brings to us. Of course these are small and insignificant, and unable, by their own weight, to overbalance the scales; but if looked at closely, they
will be found to be some of the fine gold-dust that clings to the golden scale of mercies.
Perhaps the one of these that comes up first to notice is the satisfaction of knowing exactly what one has to do. There are many times in the most ordinary life, when the burden of life seems more than can be borne; not so much from the actual sorrows and trials it contains, as from its manifold complexities, its overwhelming responsibilities, its intricate relative duties, so perplexing in their combinations, its many conflicting interests whose claims are so difficult to adjust! And these duties, these interests, involve the well-being of others, many of them dear to us as our own selves, others far dearer still; and we must act, and our acts may harm or bless; from our decisions may come many results, each one having more or less of life or death in them, and that not for ourselves but for others; and yet, knowing this, we must decide. It is at our peril to turn aside from acting because of the dread of derision; to refuse to take upon us the burden of responsibility because of its galling weight. But, oh! the misery of doubt--if we only knew exactly what it was best to do—or if the necessity for action lay but in other hands than ours.
Then comes positive illness, and takes us away from the ordinary routine of life, shuts to the door of our chamber, and leaves on the outside of that door a countless host of dreads and difficulties.
It is no more now a question of acting for others, it is simply a matter regarding ourselves, and thus at once the path of duty becomes comparatively easy; if narrow, it is strait; if difficult, it is definite.
There is often a sense of great relief in this sudden contraction of our sphere of work. After a time a feeling of something akin to sorrow arises when we find how well we can be done without. We fancied we were necessary to the well-being, and well-going on of some set of persons or things. But we are laid aside, and our small world still goes on apparently much the same. As the teaching of the illness progresses, the pain becomes lost in the pleasure that this is the case, and we learn that though all may help or hinder God's plans, so much as this lies in their power, and is their privilege; yet that none are essential to their being carried out, none can effectually prevent. And so for awhile we enjoy the rest from responsibilities.
Another “good” that comes to us from the "Being ill” is, that we find out how much we are loved. It is sad that this has to be found out; but so it often is. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, may live side by side for years; and the friction of daily small cares, the jarring of contrary tempers, the inconvenience of opposing temperaments, tastes, and pursuits, may so weaken and hinder the power of outward expression, that it will need some sharp and sudden break to the ordinary course of life, to destroy the barriers, and make evident how much love each really has for the other. Illness often does this good work in the family circle; and as we catch a glimpse into the inner hearts of those who anxiously watch around our bedside, we wonder at the wealth of love therein concealed; feel that the discovery of it is worth all our personal suffering, and gratefully thank the angel of pain who has procured for us this glad surprise, this exceeding comfort.
There are also many other discoveries made during illness, not all equally agreeable. If the illness is a first one, after many years of uninterrupted health and strength, the experience is found to be most inconveniently new and startling. All the previous habits of mind and body are bouleversées, and the man scarcely recognizes himself as the same under these unprecedented circumstances. He has so suddenly to contract himself and his desires, that the effort is quite painful. Then he has, very likely, hitherto looked upon illness as the ordinary Frenchinan does upon religion, as something fit for women and children, and beneficently suited to their capacities, but by no means as that which is in any way intended for his consideration; and it irks him to find that the same thing comes to him; the leveling is annoying! Worse than all this, the fear arises that he can never more be so sure of himself and his powers; what has come unay be again, and this is very bitter to him.
We once knew a young fellow to whom this breaking down of the pride of his strength was just the one point in his first acquaintance with severe illness, that tried his manhood more than all the rest put together. Acute and continued pain he bore with considerable patience, and behaved himself, in every way, as a model invalid; but the dread that the power of his muscle might be eventually less than it had been—that he might have, in future, to descend to the effeminacy of “taking care of himself, avoiding cold and over fatigue”—was more than he seemed able to grapple with. His irritability on the subject would have been laughable, only that it was the sign of such great distress and struggle, that it became pathetic, and suggested other thoughts than amusing ones.
What a variety of character comes out under the disenchanting wand of suffering. Doctors and nurses, if given to observation of the minds as well as bodies of their patients, must often be amused, perhaps amazed, at the difference between the man carefully dressed, well-appointed, self-possessed, guarded in utterance, suave and courteous in manner, that was yesterday to be seen in the Exchange, or met with at the Conversazione ;-and the same man, crumpled up with pain, tossed about with disquietude, irritable, inconsiderate, exacting. The other day, quick to plan, eager to execute, directing, arranging, controllingto-day nerveless, fanciful, unable to rule, unused to submission, prostrate, with all the helplessness, but none of the grace, of infancy. Illness has torn to shreds all his silken disguises, broken his close-fitting armour, and attired him, body and mind, in a species of mufti, that shows him altogether at a disadvantage.
Perhaps delirium takes a man in its hot-iron grasp, and then the revelations as to the inner character and past life are more startling still; for as the erratic luried light is cast upon the dark background of his life, very ugly things are sometimes brought out into momentary distinctness, suggesting the possibility that there may be worse behind, hidden away in that darkness; hidden, till some burst of light-strong, unerring, pitilessly clear—bring them out of their obscurity ; light that shall come, not from fevered recollection, or diseased imagination, but from the cool, steady eye of an omniscient Nemesis.
Of course, it would be frightfully unfair to judge definitely of a man's life and character from the ravings of delirium, for the simplest objects, seen under exceptional conditions of light and shadow, may present hideous and distorted forms; still, happy is that man who has no materials, in his past life, of deeds of crime and thoughts of shame, that can in time of illness yield images for his brain, and spectres for his conscience.
One of the most prominent thoughts suggested by the words "Being ill,” is the amount of pain that has to be endured; and surely this must be allowed to be an unmixed evil. Not quite; there are a few small pearls in this rough, awkward-looking shell that will well reward the search.
As this paper professes only to skim the surface of things, it will not be expected that it should touch upon the subject of “the mystery of pain,” nor offer the slightest attempt at an answer to that never-ceasing “Why,” which in reference to it and its kindred mystery sin, is for ever ascending from earth to heaven. Nor does it venture to speak of those more awful forms of agony that sometimes assail the human frame, and that most of us may have seen, heard, and read about; pain so terrible that the mere thought of it confounds us, makes us dumb, and blind, and deaf, in its presence-yet pain that has been borne, can be borne, may be borne, by successive selected portions of humanity, as long as this world lasts! Great indeed is “the mystery of pain.” But pain, in its most terrific forms, does not enter into the majority of lives, though the more bear