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over the Presbyters or Elders, as well as over others. “ Rebuke not an Elder, but entreat him as a father.” “ Against an Elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses."* Again the same authority is noticed as conferred on Titus, in the Epistle addressed to him. “ For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting,” (that I have left undone,) “ and ordain Elders in every city as I had appointed thee.”+ Again, James seems to be recognized as the Superintendant of the Church at Jerusalem. I need not occupy you with further references.
In speaking of those who were invested with rule in the Church, I have used the term “ Superintendant” rather than Bishop, (though the terms are synonymous,) because I wished for the present to avoid a source of perplexity, which, till the cause is pointed out, is apt to occur to a reader of the Scriptures. Originally the terms Bishop and Presbyter seem to have had nearly the same meaning; the Rulers of the Church were called Apostles or Angels ;$ the next Order of the ministry, Bishops or Presbyters indifferently. But it very early was found expedient to confine the use of the term Apostle to those distinguished disciples and witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, whom we
now generally understand by the term; and the word Bishop was then appropriated in a distinct signification, and used as a substitute for the titles of Apostle and Angel. The three Orders, however, of ministry are distinctly referred to in the Scriptures: so that this change of name, at least when its cause is pointed out, ought not to create any confusion of thought on the subject.
There can be no doubt that this distinction of three Orders of ministry appears in the earliest documents of ecclesiastical history. I will not now occupy you with quotations in proof; but you can easily refer to writers of credit. The examination will convince you that our Church was fully justified in its declaration, that, “it is evident to all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been three Orders of ministers in Christ's Church - Bishops, Priests and Deacons.”*
I shall not detain you now by adverting to the several functions which our Bishops are commissioned to discharge; there is one part, however, of the constitution of our Church, to which, because it is not unfrequently overlooked by the laity, I shall briefly direct your attention.
Our Church has framed, as far as it could, written laws and regulations for the direction of its clerical members; but well knowing that the mean
* See note at the end.
ing of some of these might become matter of dispute, and anticipating also that circumstances must arise from time to time which could not be foreseen, and for which no written provision could be made, it has intrusted the Bishops with a power of issuing directions in both these cases. When “ doubt arises concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute” the prescribed regulations, (I am citing the preface to the Prayer-book,) “ the parties that so doubt are to resort to the Bishop of the diocese” for his direction. And again the Bishop is authorized to direct to the lower clergy “godly admonitions;” and we, the lower clergy, make a solemn promise before God that we will “ follow such admonitions with a glad mind and will, and submit ourselves unto them."* This is an important trust, and one to be exercised by our Bishops with the most watchful discretion; and should they be influenced in exercising, or in abstaining from the exercise of, this duty, either by the fear of censure or the love of applause, they will hereafter have to give an account to Him,—the chief Shepherd, who knoweth the secrets of the heart. They will have to give an account both of what they do, and of what they have left undone. If they act, or abstain from acting, in any particular department which belongs to them, through fear of man, or because
* See the “ Form and Manner of making and ordaining Priests and Deacons.”
they love the honor of man, the same judgment awaits them as awaits the clergy who are under them, or the meanest of our flocks.
It is, however, for each party to consider how he executes the particular obligation which lies on him. The Bishops are called upon to exercise discipline with kindness and discretion; and we, the inferior clergy, are bound, as you perceive, by the most solemn engagement, to pay a reverence to the godly admonitions of our Bishops. It is reasonable indeed that all godly admonitions should be received, as such, no matter from what quarter they may come. But the words referred to were evidently designed to inculcate, not this ordinary duty, but a special duty towards our Bishops. We place ourselves under an obligation to attend to their godly admonitions with a peculiar reverence ; and this in language so explicit, that if we violate this engagement, from our own prejudices, or from yielding to those of others, or from a desire of exercising an independent authority, or from a fear of opposing the assumed leadership of some other person no matter what the cause may be, if we violate the engagement, we must admit that we incur a heavy responsibility,—a responsibility not before a human tribunal, but before that God whom we have called to witness the engagement. The engagement itself, indeed, is expressed in words devised by man; but having solemnly taken it upon us before God, it is to God and not to man
we are responsible for its observance. It would be wise, therefore, both for Bishops and for the clergy, each for himself, to set apart a day for reading over the special engagements which the services of Ordination and Consecration imply, and for examining himself as to how far he has fulfilled or sought and wished to fulfil such solemn engagements.
When any one speaks of our present Bishops as the successors of those primitive Bishops ordained by the Apostles, I have known persons seek to throw a ridicule upon this, by contrasting the office as it at present exists, with the state of persecution and suffering to which they were subjected. But if this be used as a serious argument against our episcopacy, I would ask of you, whether you would wish the spirit which persecuted Christians to return? If the condition of Christian Bishops be different, as happily it is, from that of their predecessors, so is the condition also of Christian laymen. You do not bring ruin upon yourselves, my brethren, by your profession of the religion of Christ. On the contrary you in general are more likely to advance your worldly interests by this profession. The fact that such a change has taken place in the circumstances of the Christian Church, is an additional reason for each of its members, lay and clerical, to examine thesincerity of his profession: but the change itself has reached us all. You do not feel yourselves degraded as Christians because you