Obrazy na stronie

be irregular, and their communion neither safe nor lawful.

But, to give you, Sir, more just and favourable impressions of ordination by presbyters, and to abate somewhat of your high esteem of that episcopal ordination on which you so much pique yourself, I recommend to your consideration the following things.

1. That Timothy was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, 1 Tim. iv. 14.That Paul and Barnabas were ordained by certain prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch, and not by any bishop, (of whom there is not a word in all that solemnity) presiding in that cily. Acts xiii. 1, 2, 3.—And that it is a wellknown, acknowledged, incontestable fact, that presbyters, in the celebrated church of Alexandria, ordained even their own bishops for more than two hundred years in the earliest ages of christianity.

2. Bishops and presbyters are in scripture the very same, and are not a distinct order, or office in the christian church. The church at Philippi had but two orders of church officers among them, viz. bishops and deacons, Philip i. 1. And that the name, office, and work of a bishop, and of a presbyter, are the same, appears from Tit. i. 5.7. For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain presbyters in every city; for a bishop must be blamelessmPaul called the presbyters of the church of Ephesus together, and charged them, Acts xx. 27, 28. To take heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them bishops, ETISKOMP5. So, 1 Pet. v. 1, 2. The presbyters among you I exhort, who also am a presbyter; feed the flock of God among you, performing the office of bishops, ETTIGHOT 8719.

The superiority of bishops to presbyters is, not only by the first reformers and founders of the church of England, but by many of its most learned and eminent doctors since, pot pretended to be of divine, but admitted to be only of human institution; not grounded upon scripture, but only upon the custom or ordinances of this realm. « The truth is, that, in the New Testament, « there is no mention of any degree or distinc« tion of orders, but only of deacons or minis« ters, and of priests or bishops," says a declaration of the function, &c. which was signed by more than thirty-seven civilians and divines, among whom were thirteen bishops.* The book, entitled, The Institution of a Christian Man, subscribed by the clergy in convocation, and confirmed by parliament, own bishops, and presbyters, by scripture, to be the same;t and says, though St. Paul consecrated and ordained bishops by imposition of hands, yet there is no certain rule prescribed in scripture for the nomination, election, or presentation of them; this is left to the positive law of every country. And that the main ground of settling episcopal government in this nation, was not any pretence of divine right, but the convenience of that form of church-government to the state and condition of the church at the time of the reformation, your learned Stillingfleet affirms, and proves it to be the sentiment of Archbishop Cranmer, and other chief reformers, both in Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth's reigns; of Archbishop. Whitegift, Bishop Bridges, Loe, Hooker, Sutcliffe, Hales, Chillingworth, &c. g I must also add,

* Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, Vol. I. Ap. p. 321.

+ To the same purpose speaks the Eradition of a Christian Man.

Iren, ch. viii. page 385.

See a letter of Dr. Raynold's, of Oxford, on this head, where he declares the sameness of bishops and priests, of that they have equal authority and power, by God's word, to have been the judgment of St. Paul, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, Austin, Theodorus, Primasius, Theophylact, Occumenius, Aenselm, Gregory, Gratian, the Waldenses, Wickliffites, Hussites, &c. Neal. Hist. Purit. vol. i. page 497


3. That it deserves your serious consideration, whether, by the constitution and frame of the church of England, sacerdotal ordination be really at all necessary to the making a valid minister, and to the giving success and efficacy to his ministrations ; or, whether there be really any such ordination in the church of England at all. It seems clearly the sentiment of our first reformers, that sacerdotal ordination was not necessary, and that they established the church of England agreeably to this plan. For, in a select assembly of divines, convened by the authority of King Edward VI. for the settling important points relating to religion, it was determined, as may be presumed from a recorded opinion of Archbishop Cranmer, their president, That,

though in the admission of bishops, parsons, « vicars, and other priests, to their office, there r be divers comely ceremonies and solemnities “ used, (he speaks chiefly of ordination,) yet " these be not of necessity, but only for good “ order and seemly fashion. For, if such offices " and ministrations were committed without such “ solemnity, they were nevertheless truly com“ mitted. And ihere is no more promise of God " that grace is given in the committing of the “ ecclesiastical office, than it is in the committing

[ocr errors]

Archbishop Bancroft, and the rest of the bishops, with him, owned the ordination of presbyters to be valid, and therefore refused to re-ordain the Scottish presbyters who were then to be made bishops, declaring, “ That to doubt “ it was to doubt whether there were any lawful vocation “ in most of the reformed churches.” Archbishop Spotswood's Hist. page 514.-The bishops of Scotland, when episcopacy was settled there, never required the presbyterian ministers to take episcopal ordination. Bp. Burnet's Vindicat. pages 84, 85.

• Vide Extract from Abp. Cranmer's MS. Stilling. Iren. chap. viii. page 391.

o the civil.- A bishop may make a priest by the « scriptures, and so may princes and governors “ also, and that by the authority of God commit“ted to them; and the people also by their elec"tion. For, as we read that bishops have done rit, so christian emperors and princes usually " have done it; and the people, before christian « princes were, commonly did elect their bishops

and priests. In the New Testament, he that “is appointed to be a bishop, or priest, needeth “ no consecration by the scripture; for election, or appointing thereto, is sufficient."*

Agreeably hereto, the bishops in this church, in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. took out commissions from the crown like other state-officers, for the exercising their spiritual jurisdiction : in which they acknowledge, " That ".all sorts of jurisdiction, as well ecclesiastical as “ civil, flow originally from the regal power as “ from a supreme head, the fountain and spring “ of all magistracy within this kingdom; and that

they ought with grateful minds to acknowledge “ this favour derived from the king's liberality " and indulgence; and accordingly they ought “ to render it up whenever the king thought fit “ to require it of them. And, among the parti“culars of ecclesiastical power, given them by “ this commission, is that of ordaining presbyters; i and all this to last no longer than the king's

pleasure. And these things are said to be super and ultra over and above what belongs " to them by scripture.”+

• To the same purpose speaks the Erudition of a Christian Man, which was drawn up by a committee of bishops and divines, and read and approved by the lords spiritual and temporal, and the lower house of parliament, anno 1543. Vide Neal's Hist. Purit. vol. i. pages 33. 36.

+ Rights Christ. Ch. Pref. page 39. Even Archdeacon kchard acknowledges, that, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, the bishops took out, and acted by commission, in which they were but subaltern to the king's

From the commissions which the bishops took out, (especially Bonner's, bishop of London,) it is evident, that all the power of ordination which the bishops had, or could have, and exercise in this kingdom, they derived entirely from the civil magistrate, and only from him.* And that this really is the case as to the ecclesiastical orders conferred by our present bishops; that all the validity, significancy, or weight, which they have in this church, they derive purely and solely from the authority of the magistrate, incontestably appears from hence, namely, that the magistrate has authoritatively directed and prescribed how, and to whom ordination is to be given. And, should an ordination be given by all the bishops of this church in other manner, and other form than that prescribed by the magistrate, such ordination would be of no legality at all, nor authority in this church. The man so ordained would be no proper minister in the church of England. A minister in the church of Christ he possibly might be; but he would, I repeat it, be no minister in the church of England, nor would he have power and authority to officiate as a priest therein. I

vicegerent: but, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, none being in that office, they were immediately under the king. But, by these commissions, they declare « that they held their bishoprics only during the king's pleasure, and were em“' powered in the king's name, as his delegates, to perform all “ the parts of the episcopal function." Echard's Hist. of Eng. page 229.

• Anno 1530, an order of council was made, that some bishops and other learned men, should devise an order for the creation of bishops and priests. Burnett's Hist. vol. iii. page 59.

† Vide the judgment of the court in the case of Howel, a nonjuring clergyman, ordained by Dr. Hicks, (Tindal's Hist, of England vol. iv. page 502.) His ordination was pronounced illegal, and he disowned as a clergyman. Vide a statute 8. of Eliz. in Fuller's Ch. Hist. Book ix. page 80.

The bishop at an ordination asks, “ Are you called ac

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »