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fication of combating his own conscience, and acting contrary to his sense of things? What an absurdity were this! If the Christian laity were to try the spirits, and to examine and weigh the doctrine their pretended pastors taught, then, sürely, they had a right to reject as their spiritual guides, those pastors whom they found without he doctrines of Christ, or the guidance of his Spirit.
Accordingly, the Christian laity are charged, Rom. xvi. 17. To mark (to consider, to observe carefully,) them that cause divisions and offences contrary to the Christian doctrine, and to avoid them" Note, those who make new terms of conmunion in the church of Christ, who set up new ceremonies of human invention, and command the subjects of Christ to yield obedience to them, and who cast out of the church, or refuse to admit into it, those who coinplý not with such ceremonies and rites; these, Sir, are the men, (I appeal to your own conscience, and to the bar of eternal reason, at which all must shortly stand these are the men which cause divisions and offence.contrary to the Christian doctrine : these, therefore, the Christian people are expressly commanded by the apostle to avoid. Attentively consider this, and you will never more condemn our separation from your church: this single text alone justifies it before the world ; and not only so, but proves it to be a most plain and indispensable duty
The church of England seems to have departed froni, and most manifestly to have destroyed the primitive apostolic and catholic communion, by setting up and enjoining other terms of Christian fellowship than the gospel hath enjoined, and rejecting those whom Christ receives. From this church, therefore, upon Christian principles, and by the command of St. Paul, we are to withdraw ourselves, and to separate."
But, to return; the manner in which the places of Judas, the traitor, was filled up, Acts i. and in which the seven deacons were chosen, Acts vi, shews it plainly to be the constitution of the great founder of the Christian church, that its ministers should be appointed by the election of the people. Ao apostle was an officer of extraordinary rank, whom it seemed in a peculiar inanner the prerogative of Christ solely to appoint to that office; but neither doth he do this, nor yet order the apostolic college to fill up this vacancy by their own authority and discretion ; but, (for an instruction, no doubt, to future ages) he com. manded the Christian people (the whole number of believers, as far as appears, that were then at Jerusalem) to choose out two, and present them before him, of whom he would appoint one to the vacant apostolate. A strong presumptive evidence, every one must grant, in support of popular elections.
And, when the seven deacons were to be apa pointed to manage the church's flock, though the apostles were then vested with a fulness of power and had the gift of discerning spirits, (in both which they had no successors,) and were therefore far better qualified to have chosen persons for that office than the multitude of Lay-Christians, yet, behold, as a standing monument to aftertimes, in whom this elective power was to rest in the church, they took not upon them authorita. tively to nominate, but directed the people to look out seven men of good report. In obedience to this direction, and in pursuance of their right, (as the Lord's freed men, put into a happy state, where none were to have authority or dominion over others, but all were to be brethren,) the whole multitude, it is said, chose, or, as you learnedly render it, PICKED OUT of their number seren men. Not to differ on small things, Sir, if you will allow
that the Christian laity have a right to PICK OUT their ministers, as the apostles, with their superior powers and gifts of discerning spirits
, allowed the laity in their times, this is all we ask.
As to the practice of the ancient church, it is not I, as you suggest, but a writer of your own, * high enough for church power, who says, " That " the people had votes in the choice of bishops, "all must grant, and it can be only ignorance and “ folly, that plead the contrary." I own,
I am surprised at your so stiffly contesting this point, when the stream of all, even your own writers, beats so violently against you. Clemens Romanus,t a contemporary of the apostles, says, they appointed bishops, by the consent of the whole church. How often does Cyprian say, “ Nihil « fiat nisi consentiente plebe." Let nothing be done but by the consent of the people. Again, " Deus instruit ordinationes sacerdotales non “ nisi sub populi assistentis conscientia fieri opor“ tere. I 'God appoints that sacerdotal ordinations should not be made without the assistance and consent of the people. Himself he declares chosen to his office, « Favore plebis, populi suffragio.” By the favour and vote of the people. Your criticism on the word suffragium (which all the learned know properly and constantly signifies a vote, as it undoubtedly does in one, if not both the very instances you bring to disprove it) is too slender to deserve a particular consideration; especially as you offer not a word against ibat other express testimony, quoted from the same father, which indisputably shews the sense in which he uses suffragium. * Plebs maximam " habet potestatem vel eligendi dignos sacerdotes " vel indignos rescusandi.” To the people belongs the chief power either of choosing worthy, ministers, er of rejecting the unworthy. This is a testimony
kontta. + Epist. ad Cor. Cap. 14. Epist. 67
full to the point, which you could not gainsay, and therefore you wisely overlooked it.
The constitations of the apostles' decree," That “ he who is to be ordained a bishop must be cho" sen by all the people as the most worthy."*
The canons (called the apostles') " depose such bishops as are chosen by the civil magistrate." +
The famous council of Nice, in a synodical epistle to the church of Alexandria, forbids“ any " to be ordained bishops without the election of " the people."
The council of Constantinople, anno 382, say they ordained Nectarius,“ cuncta dccernente ci" vitate," all the city decreeing; and Flavianus, “ omni ecclesia decernente,” according to the determination of the whole church.
The council of Carthage, anno 394, say,
bishop is to be ordained, cum omni consentu “ clericorum et laicorum, with the universal con“sent both of the clergy and laity."
Leo V. (Father Paul confesses, t) has amply shewn “ that the ordination of a bishop could
not be lawful or valid which was not required " and sought by the people, and by them ap“ proved; which is said by all the fathers of “ those times ;” and adds, " Qui præfuturus est “ omnibus ab omnibus eligatur."S" Let him that is to preside over all be chosen by all.
The council of Paris, anno 552, require “ the “ election of the people and clergy on pain of “ excommunication. Chrysostom was chosen bishop of Constantinople by the.“ common con
sent of all persons, clergy as well as laity."| In the choice of St. Martin, the votes of the people carried it against the votes of the bishops themselves, the people insisting upon their privilege. I
Const. Apos. L. 8, Cap. 4. + Can. Apos. 30, in Photio.
Finally, the mighty contests and struggles, of which ecclesiastical story is full, into which the great cities frequently fell at the election of their bishops, put beyond all doubt the antiquity of the practice. That at Antioch, when Eustathius was chosen, described by Eusebius, (de Vita Constant. 1. 3. ch. 59, 60,) where also is the Emperor's letter to the people of Antioch, (another meuporable monument full to the purpose,) exhorting them not to choose Eusebius as their bishop, but to think of some other person :that, at Cesarea, described by Greg. Nazian,*that at Alexandria, by Evigrius :
that, at Constantinople, several times by Sozomen, &c. that at Ephesus, by Chrysostom:-at Versailles, by Ambrose :-at Milan, by Socrates :--at Rome, by Ammianus Marcellinus, &c. It hence evidently appears what the sentiments and practice were of the churches in those ancient times. So that so warm a champion for church authority, as your zealous Dr. Wall, is forced to confess, “ that it is a piece of history which cannot fairly “ be denied, that, among the primitive Christians, “ the people used to have their suffrage in the " ohoice of church-officers; and that this is the
most regular way; that it continued many years; " and those Christians, who have gone about to « mend this way, have made it worse. I
These, now, are the grounds on which this right of the people stands. And thus impregnable is the post which you so adventurously attack. Your reasoning upon this bead is truly extraordinary, which, in short, is this:“ A man does well “ who meekly attends the ministry of a good, “ able, orthodox minister, by whomsoever pro
* Orat. 19
+ L. 2. C. 6. Dr. Wall's Hist. Inf. Bap. Vol. II. page 334. Nay, if any presbyter was created a bishop by imperial mandates, the people were enjoined to renounce him.