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addressed to the church at Philippi; and, that this was the reason why he was not remembered in the salutation. Of this solution we observe only, that, like some other of their arguments, it is mere assumption. And even granting this assumption, it is an inquiry of not very easy solution, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate. One can scarcely help being forcibly reminded, by the ineffectual efforts of Episcopalians to find a prelate at Philippi, of a remarkable transaction mentioned i Kings, xviii. 27, 28, to which we need only refer our readers. It is scarcely necessary to add, that, if a single church is proved to have been organized without the “three orders of clergy," the parity of the ministry is made out by apostolic appointment, and the Episcopal argument is at an end.
We may add, that our view of the organization of the church in Philippi, is confirmed by an examination of the organization of the church in its immediate neighborhood, in Thessalonica. Jn the two epistles which Paul directed to that church, there is not the slightest reference to any prelatical bishop; there is no mention of
three orders of clergy;' there is no hint, that the church was organized on that plan. But one order of ministers is mentioned, evidently as entitled to the same respect, and as on an entire equality. They were men, clearly of the same rank, and engaged in discharging the functions of the same office. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love, for their work's sake.” 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. Will our Episcopal friends be kind enough to inform us, why there is no mention of the prelate, whethier present or absent ?
We are here prepared to estimate the force of the undeniable fact, that there is no distinction of grade or rank, by the names which are given to the ministers of the gospel in the new testament. It is admitted by Episcopalians themselves, that the names bishop, presbyter, etc., in the bible, do not denote those ranks of church-officers to which they are now applied, but are given indiscriminately to all. On this point, we have the authority of Dr. Onderdonk. “ 'The name · bishop,'” says he, “which now designates the highest grade of the ministry, is not appropriated to this office in scripture. That name is given to the middle order, or presbyters; and ALL THAT WE READ IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CONCERNING “BISHOPS, (including, of course, the words 'overseers,' and 'oversight,' which have the same derivation,) is TO BE REGARDED AS PERTAINING TO THIS MIDDLE GRADE. (Tract, p: 12.) “ Another irregularity of the same kind, occurs in regard to the word "elder.' It is sometimes used for a minister, or clergyman of any grade, higher, middle, or lower; but it more strictly signifies a presbyter.” Tract, p. 14.
In accordance with this fact, which is as remarkable as it is true, we have seen, that Peter applies to himself the name presbyter, and puts himself on a level with other presbyters. “The presbyters which are among you, I exhort, (not, I command, or enjoin, as a prelate would do,) who am also a presbyter.” i Peter, v. 1. And in the very next verse, he exhorts them (the elders, or presbyters.) to "seed the flock of God, taking the oversight, (ÈTIOXOTOUTES exercising the office of bishop,) not by constraint,” etc. Now let these conceded facts be borne in mind.
The term presbyter is applied to the apostles. “All that we read of in the new festament concerning · bishops,' is applied to the middle grade.” The apostles address each other, and their brethren, by the same tems,—by no words or names, that indicate rank, or grade, or authority. We maintain, that this fact can be accounted for, only on the supposition, that they regarded themselves as ministers, as on a level. If they meant to teach, that one class was superior in rank and power, to others; we maintain, that they would not have used terms always confounding such distinctions, and always proceeding on the supposition, that they were on an equality. It will not be pretended, that they could not employ terms, that would have marked the various grades. For if the term bishop' can now do it , it could do it then; if the term presbyter can now be used to denote • the middle grade,' it could then have been so used.
We maintain, too, that if such had been their intention, they would have thus employed those terms.
That the sacred writers were capable of using language definitely, Dr. Onderdonk will not doubt. Why, then, if they were capable, did they choose not to do it? Are Episcopal bishops, now, ever as vague and indefinite in their use of the terms • bishop' and presbyters, as were the apostles ? Why were the latter so undesirous of having " the pre-eminence?" (3 John, 9.)
It is remarkable, that the mode of using these terms in the new testament, is precisely in accordance with the usage in Presbyterian and Congregational churches. They speak, just as the sacred writers did, of their ministers, indiscriminately as . bishops,' as 'pastors,' as ' teachers,' as 'evangelists. They regard their ministers as on an equality. Did not the sacred writers do the same?
It is as remarkable, that the mode of using these terms in the Episcopal churches, is not, (ex concessis) that which occurs in the bible. And it is as certain, that were they thus to use those terms, it would at once confound their orders and ranks, and reduce their ministers to equality. Do we ever see any approximation, in their addresses, and in their canons, in this l'espect, to the language and style of the new testament? Do we ever hear of bishop Tyng, or bishop Hawkes, or bishop Schroeder, or bishop Croswell? Do we ever hear of presbyter Ives, or Doane, or Onderdonk? How would
language like this, sound in the mouth of a prelatical bishop Would not all men be amazed, as if some new thing had happened under the sun, in the Episcopal church? And yet, we venture to presume, that the terins used in the new testament, to designate any office, may be used still. We shall still choose to call things by their true names, and to apply to all ranks and orders of men, the terms which are applied to them by the spirit of inspiration. And as the indiscriminate use of these terms is carefully avoided by the customs and canons of the Episcopal church ; as there seems to have been a presentiment in the formation of those canons, that such indiscriminate use would reduce the fabric to simple parity' of the clergy; and as these terms cannot be so used, without reducing these ó ranks and orders' to a scriptural equality, we come to the conclusion, that the apostles meant to teach, that the ministers of the new testament are equal in ministerial rights
We have now gone through this entire subject. We have examined, we trust, in a candid manner,—we are sure with the kindest feelings towards our Episcopal brethren,-every argument which they have to adduce from the bible, in favor of the claims of their bishops. We have disposed of these arguments, step by step. We liave done this, remembering, that these are all the arguments which Episcopacy has to urge from the bible. There is nothing that remains. The subject is exhausted. Episcopacy rests here. And it is incumbent on Episcopacy to show, not to affirm, that our interpretation of those passages is not sustained by sound principles of exegesis.
The burden of proof still lies on them. They assumed it, and on them it rests. They affirm, that enormous powers are lodged in the hands of the prelate,-every thing pertaining to ordination, to discipline, to the superintendence of the christian church. They clain powers, tending to degrade every presbyter in the world, to the condition of a dependent and inferior office; stripping him of the right of transmitting his own office, and of administering discipline among his own flock. They arrogate powers, which go to strip all other presbyters, except Episcopalian, of any right to officiate in the church of God; rendering their ordination invalid, their administrations void, and their exercise of the functions of their office, a daring and impious invasion of the rights of the priesthood, and a violation of the law of Christ. The foundation for these sweeping, and certainly not very modest claims, we have examined with all freedom. The argument for prelacy, may be summed up in a word. It consists in the text,—the solitary text, “ the apostles and elders,” “the apostles, and elders, and brethren,” joined to a circuitous train of reasoning, remote froin common apprehension, and too abstruse for the guidance of
the mass of men. Step by step, we have followed them in their circuits ; argument after argument, we have patiently displaced ; and, at the conclusion, we may ask any person of plain common-sense, to place bis finger on that portion of the book of God, which is favorable to prelacy.
This argument having been met and disproved, we have produced an instance of express Presbyterian ordination, in the case of Timothy. Two churches we have found, that were organized without prelates. We are thus, by another train of argument, conducted to the same result, that prelates are unknown in the new testament. And, to make our argument persectly conclusive, we have shown, that the same titles are applied indiscriminately
Our argument may be stated in still fewer words. The Episcopal claims are not made out; and, of course, the clergy of the new testament are equal. The Episcopalian has failed to show, that there were different grades; and it follows, that there must be parity. We have examined the only case of ordination specified in the new testament, and the constitution of the churches, and find, that it is so ; and we are conducted, inevitably, to the conclusion, that prelacy is not in the bible.
We now take our leave of the Episcopal controversy. As Episcopacy has nothing which it can add to the scriptural argument, we regard our labors in this department as at end.' The whole scriptural argument is exhausted, and here our inquiry ends; and here our interest in this topic ceases.
We take leave of the subject, with the same kind feelings for that church, and the same respect for the author of the "Tract," with which we began the inquiry. We remember the former services which the Episcopal church rendered to the cause of truth, and of the world's redemption; we remember the bright and ever-living lights of truth, which her clergy, and her illustrious laymen, have in other times enkindled in the darkness of this world's history, and which continue to pour their pure and steady luster on the literature, the laws, and the customs of the christian world ; and we trust the day will never come, when our own bosoms, or the bosoms of christians in any denomination, will cease to beat with emotions of lofty thanksgiving to the God of grace, that he raised up such gifted and holy men, to meet the corruptions of the papacy, and to breast the wickedness of the world.
In our view of ecclesiastical polity, we can have no unkind feelings towards any branch of the true church of God. We strive to cherish feelings of affectionate regard for them all, and to render praise to the common Father of christians, for any efforts which are made to advance the intelligence, the purity, and the salvation of mankind. In our views of the nature of mind, and of
freedom, we can have no unkind feelings towards any denomination of true christians. “ There are diversities of operations, but the same spirit.” We have no expectation, that all men, in this world, will think alike. And we regard it as a wise arrangement, that the church of God is thus organized into different sections and departments, under the banner of the common Captain of their salvation. It promotes inquiry. It prevents complacency in mere forms and ceremonies. It produces healthy and vigorous emulation. It affords opportunities for all classes of minds to arrange themselves according to their preferences, and their habits of thought. And it is not unfavorable to that kindness of feeling which the christian can cherish, and should cherish, when he utters in the sanctuary, the article of his faith, “I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints." The attachment of a soldier to a particular company or squadron, need not diminish his respect for the armies of his country, or extinguish his love of her liberty. Being joined to a company of infantry, need not make me feel, that the cavalry are useless, or involve me in a controversy with the artillery.
We ask only, that Episcopacy should not assume arrogant claiins; that she should be willing to take her place among other denominations of christians, entitled to like respect as others, to all the tender and sympathetic affections of the christian brotherhood; and willing, that others should walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free? We shall have no contest with our Episcopal brethren, for loving the church of their choice, and the church in which they seek to prepare themselves for heaven. We shall not utter the language of unkindness, for their reverencing the ministerial office, in which the spirits of Cranmer and Leighton were prepared for their eternal rest. Content that other denominations should enjoy like freedom, while they do not arrogate to themselves unholy claims, and attempt to " lord it over" other parts of God's heritage;" we shall pray for their success, and rejoice in their advancement. But the moment they cross this line; the moment they make any advances which resemble those of the papacy; the moment they set up the claim of being the only 'primitive and apostolical church; and the moment they speak of the invalid ministry' and the invalid ordinances' of the churches, and regard them as left to the uncovenanted mercies of God,' that moment, the language of argument and of christian rebuke may properly be heard from every other denomination. There are minds, that can investigate the bible, as well as the advocates for Episcopacy; there are pens, that can compete with any found in the Episcopal church; and there are men, who will not be slow to rebuke the first appearance of arrogance and of lordly assumption, and who will remind them, that the time has gone by, when an appeal to the in