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byterian ordination, without requiring them to be re-ordained. They have, and have long had, a large number of this class actually incorporated with the rest of their clergy, and standing on a perfect level with those who have been ordained by their Bishops*.
Finally; in order to swell the list of Episcopal churches as much as possible, the Methodist church is frequently represented as such ; but how justly, a little examination will evince. Mr. Wesley, the venerable Founder of that church, when he undertook, a number of years ago, to digest a plan for its external organization, especially in the United States, formally avowed himself to be of the opinion, with Lord Chancellor King, that Bishop and Presbyter, in the Primitive church, were the same. And in perfect conformity with this belief, he himself, being only a Presbyter in the church of England, united with other Presbyters in ordaining ministers for his new church. These Presbyters ordained the first Methodist Bishops, from whom all succeeding ordinations in that body have been derived. So that in the Methodist church, there is no other, strictly speaking, than Presbyterian ordination to the present hour. In consistency with this acknowledged fact, they receive, without re-ordination, ministers who have been ordained by Presbyters alone in other churches. They practise their own ordination, which is acknowledged by themselves to be no
* See A Concise Historical Account of the Constitution of the Unitas Fratrum. 8vo. Lond. 1775.
other than Presbyterian, in Scotland, where they are surrounded with Episcopal Bishops, whose ordination might be obtained, if it were deemed necessary. In a word, though, for the purposes of government, they have ministers of different titles and ranks; yet they neither possess, nor recognize any. higher power than that of Presbyters. And, what confirms the representation I have given is, that when Methodist ministers consider it as their duty to enter the Episcopal church, they are always laid under the necessity of practically renouncing their former orders, and submitting to be re-ordained.
If I mistake not, I have now demonstrated, that the whole body of the Reformers, with scarcely any exceptions, agreed in maintaining that ministerial parity was the doctrine of Scripture, and of the primitive church: That all the Reformed churches, excepting that of England, were organized on this principle ; and that even those great men who finally settled her government and worship, did not consider Prelacy as founded on Divine appointment, but only as resting on the basis of expediency. In short, there is complete evidence, that the church of England stands alone in making Bishops an order of clergy superior to Presbyters ; nay, that every other Protestant church on earth, has formally disclaimed the divine right of diocesan Episcopacy, and pronounced it to be a mere human invention.
Now is it credible, my Brethren, that a body of such men as the early Reformers; men who to
great learning, added the most exalted piety, zeal, and devotedness to the truth ; men who counted not their lives dear to them that they might maintain what appeared to them the purity of faith and order in the church; is it credible that such men, living in different countries, embarrassed with different prejudices, alleducated under the system of diocesan Bishops, and all surrounded with ministers and people still warmly attached to this system : Is it credible, I say, that such men, thus situated, should, when left free to examine the Scriptures and the early Fathers on this subject, with almost perfect unanimity, agree in pronouncing Prelacy to be a human invention, and ministerial parity to be the doctrine of Scripture, if the testimony in favor of this opinion had not been perfectly clear and conclusive? It is not credible. We may suppose
Cal vin and Beza to have emiraced their opinions on this subject from prejudice, arising out of their situation; but that Luther, Melancton, and all the leading Reformers on the continent of Europe, differently situated, and with different views on other points, should embrace the same opinion ; that Cranmer, Grindal, and other Prelates in Britain, though partaking in the highest honors of an Episcopal system, should entirely concur in that opinion ; that all this illustrious body of men, scattered through the whole Protestant world, should agree in declaring ministerial parity to be the doctrine of Scripture and of the Primitive church ; and all this from mere prejudice, in direct
opposition to Scripture, and early history, is one of the most incredible suppositions that can be formed by the human mind.
I repeat again, the question before us is not to be decided by human opinion, or by the number or respectability of the advocates which appear on either side. We are not to be governed by the judgment of Reformers, or by the practice of the churches which they planted. But so far as these considerations have any weight, they are clearly and unquestionably on the side of Presbyterian parity.
Concessions of eminent Episcopalians.
The concessions of opponents always carry with them peculiar weight. The opinions of Presbyterians, in this controversy, like the testimony of all men in their own favor, will of course be received with suspicion and allowance. But when decided and zealous Episcopalians ; men who stand high as the defenders and the ornaments of Episcopacy; men whose prejudices and interest were all enlisted in the support of the Episcopal system; when these are found to have conceded the main points in this controversy, they give us advantages of the most decisive kind. Some instances of this sort, I shall now proceed to state.
When I exhibit Episcopal Divines as making concessions in favor of our doctrine, none certainly will understand me as meaning to assert, that they were Presbyterians in principle. So far from