Obrazy na stronie

that Church, and became fo eminent under Euo dins, St. Peter's Succeffor in that great See, that he was judged, even by the Apostles themselves, who were guided by an infallible Spirit, to be the fitteft Perfon to fucceed him in that Chair. And can we think that a Man who was thus inftructed

by fo many of the Apostles, who was confecrated

a Bishop by them,and that of fo eminent a Church, who prefided over that Church fo many Years during the Lives of fome of the Apostles, could be deceived himself, and not know what was the Authority of a Bishop, what Duties and Functions he was to perform, and what Obedience the People owed to him, efpecially when he lived in an Age in which the extraordinary Infpirations of the Holy Ghoft were frequent, and was himself alfo bleffed fometimes with those Inspirations, and particularly, as he himself affirms, when he charged the People to do nothing without their Bifhop? Or can we think he could have any Purpose or Intention to deceive those he spake and wrote thefe Things to? That is, not to be believed of fo holy a Man, and a Disciple of the Apostles, efpecially at the time when he was bound with Chains, and going to his Martyrdom. The moft profligate Wretches when they come to die, will hardly die with a Lie in their Mouths; much less therefore can any fuch thing be fufpected of fo holy a Martyr, who had been above Threefcore Years a Servant of Christ, at the time when that Service was attended with all manner of Worldly Troubles and Afflictions, and confequently no Man could have any Worldly Intereft to ferve by profeffing Chriftianity, and was now going to lay down his Life for. that Profeffion. If he would have told a Lie for any Worldly Interest, the only Inducement any one can have to lie, he needed not to have been bound with that Chain, which he


mentions his having upon him when he wrote his Epiftles. Could he have told a Lie, or denied. himself to be a Chriftian, he might have escaped that Death he was then going to fuffer at Rome: And can we think that he who would not tell a Lie to fave his own Life, would as he was going to his Death tell a Lie for no Purpose at all, but merely to deceive? He that can believe fuch a thing of this holy Martyr, is not fit to be difpu ted with, he is paft Conviction. Since then it is fo evident that St. Ignatius could not be deceived himself in the Account which he gives us of the Epifcopal Authority, and the Neceffity of an Epifcopal Commiffion for the Miniftry of the Sacraments, nor can be in the leaft fufpected to have any pur pofe to deceive us, if we had no other Authority but his, we ought to believe Epifcopacy to be of Divine Right, and that an Epifcopal Commiffion is neceffary to the valid Adminiftration of the Sacraments: much more reafon have we then to believe it, when we find it alfo confirmed by the Scriptures, and the Practice of the truly Primitive Church, from the Time of the Apoftles to the Council of Nice, as well as in all the following Ages, to the very Time of John Calvin. This Matter therefore being fo fully proved from the Scripture, and this most ancient Father, whofe Authority, for the Reasons aforefaid, is justly reputed next to the Scripture, I fhall not be very careful to produce other Authorities for this purpofe, only one or two at the distance of 40 or 50 Years from each other, to fhew that the fame continued as the Doctrine of the Catholick Church to the Time of the Council of Nice.

[ocr errors]

§ XLIII. The next therefore I fhall produce is Tertullian, who bears Teftimony to this as the Doctrine of the Church, tho' his own private

I 2



Opinion was contrary to it. (t) Having difcourfed of Baptifm, the Sacrament by which we are initiated into the Church, he fays, It remains for the Conclufion of this Matter, to give an Admonition concerning what is to be obferved in the giving and receiving Baptifm. The Chief Prieft, which is the Bishop, has the Right to give it from hence the Presbyters and Deacons receive the Right alfo, but not without the Bishop's Authority, for the Honour of the Church: which being preferved, Peace is alfo preferved. Otherwife Lay-men alfo have this Right. For what is equally received by all, may be equally given by all. His Teftimony here is very plain, that according to the Order then obferved by the Church, zone but the Bishop could baptize, and the Presbyters and Deacons commiffioned by him. It is therefore evident from this Teftimony, that this was the Doctrine of the Church in the Age wherein he lived. But what follows is plainly his own private Opinion, which is of no more Weight than the Argument he founds it upon will bear, and that is very weak and fallacious. His Argument is, every Man may give what he has received, which is certainly falfe: Every Freeman of a City cannot make another Man free of that City; but it must be done by the proper Officer: Every one that is naturalized a Member of any Country or Kingdom, cannot therefore naturalize another: Becaufe a Man has received a Commiffion to be a Juftice of the Peace, or an Officer in

(1) Supereft ad concludendam materiolam, de obfervatione quoque dandi & accipiendi baptifmi commonefacere. Dandi quidem habet jus fummus facerdos qui eft Epifcopus, dehinc Presbyteri & Diaconi, non tamen fine Epifcopi auctoritate propter Ecclefiæ honorem. Quo falvo, falva pax eft. Alioquin etiam Laicis jus eft. Quod enim ex æquo accipitur, ex æquo dari poteft. Tertull. de Baptif.


an Army, he cannot therefore make another fo. Nay, in the very next Words Tertullian himself contradicts what he has here laid down for a Maxim, and on which alone he founds his Opinion of the Right which Lay-men have to baptize, for he will not allow that Women may baptize, and yet they receive that Sacrament as well as the Men. His Teftimony therefore is good, for he could not but know what was the Doctrine and Practice of the Church in his own Time, neither would he have given this Teftimony of it, being fo contrary to his own Opinion, if the Matter had not been true in Fact, and fo known to be by all Chriftians. But his Opinion is plainly naught, because founded on a Reason that is falfe, and will by no means bear the Teft: And is fo very weak, that he himself is forced to argue contrary to it in a very few Lines after he has made this Ufe of it.

§ XLIV. St. Cyprian has a Multitude of Paffa ges fhewing that only Bishops, and fuch as are commiffioned by them, have any Right or Power to adminifter the Sacraments, but I fhall at prefent content my felf with one plain Evidence. (u) We understand that none have Authority to baptize, or give Remiffion of Sins, but the Bifhops, and thofe who are founded in the Evangelical Law, and our Lord's Appointment. Nor can any ufurp to himself, in Oppofition to the Bishops and Priests, what is not within his own Right and Power.

(x) Intelligimus non nifi in Ecclefia Præpofitis, & in Evangelica Lege & Dominica Ordinatione fundatis licere baptizare & remiffam peccatorum dare. Nec poffe quenquam contra Epifcopos & Sacerdotes ufurpare fibi aliquid quod non fit fui juris & poteftatis. Cyprian, Epift. 73. ad Jubaianum.

[blocks in formation]

6 XLV. I fhall conclude thefe Teftimonies of the ancient Fathers concerning the Neceffity of an Epifcopal Commiffion to the valid Adminiftration of the Sacraments, with a Citation from St. Athanafins, who was both prefent at the Council of Nice, and was alfo the great Afferter of all the Do&rines of the Church which were approved by that Council, nor would admit of any Doctrines in any wife contrary to that Council. So that whatever he infifts upon and maintains, we may conclude was agreeable to the Senfe of the Church at the time when that venerable Council was celebrated. There was one Dracontius a Monk, who being elected and confecrated a Bifhop, would not accept the Charge, but retired again to his Monaftery; upon which Account Athanafius wrote to him, and blamed him very much for acting in this manner, and is very fevere upon thofe that counfelled and advifed him to do this: And amongst other Arguments he ufes this as one. (w) If all Perfons had been of the fame Mind with thofe which counsel you, there being No BISHOPS any where to be found, how could you have been made a Chriftian? Or if from this time forward all should take the fame Refolution, how ball the Churches ftand? But if Men might be baptized by Perfons that had no Epifcopal Commiffion, or Churches could be formed, and have the Word and Sacraments duly adminiftred without Bishops, then thefe Queftions which Athanafius puts to his Friend Dracontins are very imperti

(τ) Εἰ 28 * αὐτὸν νοῦ εἶχον πάντες, ὃς νῦν ἔχουσιν οι συμβουλεύοντές σοι, πως ἂν ἐγένου σὺ Χεισιανὸς, ἐπισκόπων μὴ ὄντων; ἐὰν ἢ καὶ ὁι μεθ ̓ ἡμᾶς ἀναλάβωσι τοιῖτον νοῦν, πῶς ἂν συςῆναι δυνήσων ) αι εκκλησίας Athanaf. Epist. ad Dracont. Edit. Benedict. Tom. 1. p. 265.


« PoprzedniaDalej »