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of which was to recommend a temporary departure from the line of Episcopal succession, on the ground that Bishops could not then be had, we find the following passage.- p. 28. “ Now if even those “ who hold Episcopacy to be of divine right, con“ceive the obligation to it not to be binding when " that idea would be destructive of public worship; “ much more must they think so, who indeed vene
rate and prefer that form as the most ancient and eligible, but without any idea of divine right in the
This the author believes to be the senti. “ ment of the great body of Episcopalians in Ameri
ca; in which respect they have in their favor,
unquestionably, the sense of the church of En. “ gland; and, as he believes, the opinions of her " most distinguished prelates for piety, virtue, and “ abilities *.”
Another instance of concession from an eminent Episcopalian, is that of the present Bishop of Lincoln, who, in his Elements of Christian Theology, a work of great authority and popularity in the church of England at this time, expresses himself in the following terms. “ Though I flatter myself " that I have proved Episcopacy to be an aposto“ lical institution; yet I readily acknowledge, that " there is no precept in the New Testament,
• It will be observed, that I am not alone in supposing that the great body of the church of England, both clergy and laity, reject the divine right of prelacy. A Bishop of the highest reputation in the Episcopal church in the United States, has pronounced that this is unquestionably so.
* which commands that every church should be
governed by Bishops. No church can exist “ without some government. But though there must “ be rules and orders for the proper discharge of the “ offices of public worship; though there must be “ fixed regulations concerning the appointment of “ ministers ; and though a subordination among " them is expedient, in the highest degree ; yet it “ does not follow that all these things must be “ precisely the same in every Christian country. “ They may vary with the other varying circum
stances of human society ; with the extent of a
country, the manners of its inhabitants, the na“ture of its civil government, and many other pe“ culiarities which might be specified. As it hath
not pleased our Almighty Father to prescribe any
particular form of civil government, for the se“ curity of temporal comforts to his rational crea
tures; so neither has he prescribed any particu. " lar form of ecclesiastical polity, as absolutely ne
cessary to the attainment of eternal happiness. “ The scriptures do not prescribe any particular “ form of church government.” Vol. II. p. 383, &c.
To the foregoing quotations, I shall only add, that a number of the most learned divines of the church of England, when writing on other subjects, have indirectly made concessions quite as decisive as any that have been mentioned. Almost every divine of that church who has undertaken to explain the prophetic parts of the sacred writings, has represented the Reformed Churches as the Lord's
sealed ones ;" as his "anointed ones;" as the “ witnesses against the man of sin ;" as the “ saints of the Most High ;” as having “ the temple of God,” and his “ altar.” Among many that might be named in confirmation of this remark, the ingenious and excellent Mr. Faber, in a work published in the course of the last year, (1806,) and which has received the decided approbation of his diocesan, expressly applies to the German Protestants, those prophecies which represent the purest part of the Christian church. He dates the death of the witnesses at the battle of Mulburg, in April, 1547, and their resurrection at Magdeburgh, in the year 1550. He does not claim for the church of England even the first rank among the witnesses, and much less the exclusive title to that honor.
The foregoing quotations are only a small specimen of what might have been produced, if our limits admitted of their being further multiplied. Nothing would be more easy than to fill a volume with concessions of similar import ; concessions made, not by men of obscure name and small learning; but by divines of the most exalted character, for talents, erudition, and piety, that ever adorned the church of England; divines who shared her highest dignities, and who gave the most unquestionable evidence of attachment to her constitution. Those which we have detailed, however, are abundantly sufficient. They prove that Presby,
terians are not alone in considering the Fathers as favorable to the doctrine of ministerial parity; that the great body of the Reformers, and other witnesses for the truth, in different ages and nations, were, in the opinion of enlightened Episcopalians, friends and advocates of the same doctrine; that the notion of the exclusive and unalterable divine right of diocesan Episcopacy, has been not only rejected, but even reprobated, by some of the greatest divines of the church of England, in more indignant and severe language than I have permitted myself to use in the preceding pages ; and that the most competent judges have considered a large majority of the English clergy, at all periods since the reformation, as advocates of the constitution of their national church, not on the principle of divine right, but of human expediency.
Rise and Progress of Prelacy.
Wen we have proved that the Apostolic church existed without diocesan Bishops, we have done enough.
No matter how soon after the death of the apostles, and the close of the sacred canon, such an order of ministers was introduced. Whether the introduction of this order were effected in four years, or four centuries after that period, it equally rests on human authority alone, and is to be treated as a mere contrivance and commandment of men. We cannot too often repeat, nor too diligently keep in view, that the authority of Christ can be claimed for nothing which is not found, in some form, in his own word.
But our Episcopal brethren, forgetting this great principle of the Reformation, when we acknowledge that prelacy existed in the fourth century, attempt to found on this fact an argument in favor of their cause. Their argument is this: “Bishops,
Bishops, as an order superior to Presbyters, are confessed to have