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“were not always the same; for, while some of them confined their labors to the instruction of the “ people, others contributed in different ways to the “ edification of the church. Among the first pro“fessors of Christianity, there were few men of “learning; few who had capacity enough to insi“nuate, into the minds of a gross and ignorant mul“ titude, the knowlege of divine things. God, there“fore, in his infinite wisdom, judged it necessary to “raise up, in many churches, extraordinary teachers, “who were to discourse, in the public assemblies, upon “the various points of the Christian doctrine, and to “ treat with the people in the name of God, as “guided by his direction, and clothed with his au“thority. Such were the prophets of the New “Testament, an order of men which ceased, when “the want of teachers, which gave rise to it, was “abundantly supplied. “The church was undoubtedly provided from the “beginning with inferior ministers or deacons. No “society can be without its servants, and still less “ such societies as those of the first Christians were ; “ and it appears not only probable, but evident, that “the young men, who carried away the dead bodies “of Ananias and Sapphira, were the subordinate “ministers or deacons of the church of Jerusalem, “who attended the apostles to execute their orders. “All the other Christian churches followed the “example of that of Jerusalem, in whatever related “to the choice and office of the deacons. Some, “ particularly the eastern churches, elected dea“conesses, and chose, for that purpose, matrons or “widows of eminent sanctity, who also ministered to “the necessities of the poor, and performed several “other offices, that tended to the maintenance of “ order and decency in the church. * Such was the constitution of the Christian “church in its infancy, when its assemblies were “neither numerous nor splendid. Three or four “presbyters, men of remarkable piety and wisdom,

“ruled these small congregations in perfect harmony; “nor did they stand in need of any president or “superior to maintain concord and order where no “dissensions were known. But the number of “presbyters and deacons increasing with that of the “churches, and the sacred work of the ministry “growing more painful and weighty, by a number “ of additional duties, these new circumstances re“quired new regulations. It was then judged “necessary that a man of distinguished gravity and “ wisdom should preside in the council of presbyters, “in order to distribute among his colleagues their “several tasks, and to be a centre of union to the “whole society. This person was at first styled the “angel of the church to which he belonged, but was

“afterwards distinguished by the name of bishop, or

“inspector; a name borrowed from the Greek lan“guage, and expressing theprincipalpart of the episco“pal function, which was to inspect and superintend “the affairs of the church. It is highly probable, that “the church of Jerusalem, grown considerably nume“rous, and deprived of the ministry of the apostles, “who were gone to instruct the other nations, was the “first which chose a president or bishop; and it is no “less probable, that the other churches followed by “degrees such a respectable example. “A bishop, during the first and second centuries, “ was a person who had the care of one Christian “ assembly, which, at that time, was, generally “speaking, small enough to be contained in a private “house. In this assembly he acted, not so much “with the authority of a master, as with the zeal “ and diligence of a faithful servant. He charged, “indeed, the presbyters with the performance of “ those duties and services, which the multiplicity of “his engagements rendered it impossible for him to “fulfil; but he had not the power to decide or enact “any thing without the consent of the presbyters “ and people; and, though the episcopal office was “both laborious and singularly dangerous, yet its

“revenues were extremely small, since the church
“ had no certain income, but depended on the gifts or
“oblations of the multitude, which were, no doubt,
“inconsiderable, and were, moreover, to be divided
“between the bishop, presbyters, deacons, and poor.
“The power and jurisdiction of the bishops were
“not long confined to these narrow limits, but soon
“extended themselves, and that by the following
“means. The bishops, who lived in the cities, had,
“either by their own ministry, or that of their pres-
“byters, erected new churches in the neighbouring
“towns and villages. These churches, continuing
“under the inspection and ministry of the bishops,
“by whose labors and counsels they had been en-
“gaged to embrace the Gospel, grew impercep-
“tibly into ecclesiastical provinces, which the Greeks
“ afterwards called dioceses. But, as the bishop of
“ the city could not extend his labors and inspection
“to all those churches in the country and in the vil-
“lages, so he appointed certain suffragans or deputies
“to govern and to instruct these new societies; and
“they were distinguished by the title of Chorepiscopi,
“ i.e. country bishops. This order held the middle
“rank between bishops and presbyters, being inferior
“to the former and superior to the latter'.”
Such, according to our author, was the constitu-
tion of the Christian church during the first century
and part of the second; for he affirms”, that the
jurisdiction of a bishop extended not over more than
one Christian assembly, and that the authority of
the people continued supreme, until the middle of
the second century, when the ancient privileges of
the people were considerably diminished, and the
power and authority of the bishops greatly augment-
ed, by councils, of which, he says, we find not the
smallest trace before that period. It was not, he
adds', till some time after the reign of Adrian, that
* Cent. I, part ii., chap. ii. sections 8, 9, 11, 12, 13.

* Cent. II, part ii, chap. ii. sect. 1, 2, 3.
* Sect, 4.

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the Christian doctors had the good fortune to per

suade the people, that the ministers of the Christian.

church succeeded to the character, rights, and privi-
leges of the Jewish priesthood. Then, indeed, the
bishops began to consider themselves as invested with
a rank and character similar to those of the high-
priest among the Jews, while the presbyters repre-
sented the priests, and the deacons the Levites.
In support of this detail, the author appeals not to
one ancient writer; and the consequence is, that the
greater part of it is in direct opposition to the unani-
mous testimony of all antiquity. He refers, indeed, to
several texts in the Acts of the Apostles and in the
Epistles of St. Paul, as proofs of what, we believe, has
never been controverted—that the titles of bishop and
presbyter are in the New Testament indifferently
applied to the same order of men. He seems however
to mistake when he supposes that the order, to which
these titles were commonly applied, consisted of the
rulers of the church; for, though the apostles some-
times call themselves elders, the order to which that
title as well as the title of bishop more properly be-
longed, was evidently subordinate to the apostles, as
well as to the church rulers, whom he admits to have
been known by the appellation of angels.
That the bishops or elders of the New Testament
were subordinate to the apostles, has never been
controverted; and that they were likewise subordi-
nate to the angels of the churches, appears indispu-
table from the charges given by “him who hath the
“sharp sword with two edges, who hath his eyes
“ like unto a flame of fire,and his feet like fine brass,”
to the angels of the churches of Pergamos and

Thyatira". These angels are described as eminent

for their “good works, charity, service, stedfastness “in the faith, and patience; ” and yet they are both severely blamed, and the former threatened for suffering in their respective churches false teachers,

* Rev, chap. ii. 12–21.


whom, if they were themselves nothing more than such presidents of congregational presbyteries as Dr. Mosheim describes, it is obvious that they could not remove from their churches. According to him, these presidents, afterwards called bishops, were

chosen by the joint suffrages of the other presbyters.

and of the lay-members of the congregation to which they respectively belonged; when thus chosen, they acted in their respective congregations, not with the authority of masters, but with the zeal and diligence of faithful servants; they had not the power to decide or enact any thing without the consent of the presbyters and the people, who were in every church the first in authority; and therefore the censure and threatening, for suffering false teachers in the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira, were on his principles due, not to the angels of those churches, but to the presbyters and people ! That the principles are erroneous which infer injustice in the Son of God, Dr. Mosheim would have been as ready as any man to confess; and therefore we have not a doubt that, if, instead of paying undue deference to the opinions of some of his less candid countrymen, he had duly weighed in his own mind the import of what the Spirit said to the seven churches, he would have perceived that the angels must have been of an order superior to the presbysters properly so called; and that they must have derived their superiority from some other source than the mere choice of the presbyters and people. To the truth of this inference it is no objection, that, in the New Testament, all officers in the church above the order of deacons are indiscriminately called sometimes bishops and sometimes presbyters. In the Old Testament, the individuals of every order of priesthood, with the exception of the mere Levites, are generally styled priests without any distinction; though every Jew and every Christian know, that the high-priest was of an order superior to the rest, and authorised to perform at least one

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