Page images

learned Enquirer himself, any such Popular Claim or Title could be imply'd in it.

From these Particulars, i conceive the first Part, or Member, of the general Distinction I propos'd, to be made good, vizi that the Holy Scriptures set forth to us a Divine Right, Authority, and Power, of ordaining Elders in the Church, absolutely and entirely convey'd (from the Fountain of all Power in it) to the fingle Persons of the first Spiritual Rulers of it, without any previous or concurrent Election of the People in the Cafe ; and that it was so executed and convey'd down to others also.

To proceed to the other part of that Diftinction then: What Account do we find of this Matter in the Records of Primitive Antiquity nearest approaching to the first Age of the Church? And here I might produce Va. riety of Instances, wherein neither Election, nor so much as a Convention of the People, was to be found, or heard of, at the Confecration of many of those Primitive Bishops within that Period of Time. Clemens Romanus conftitutes Enaristus his Successor by his own Alignment, and a kind of Surrender (as it were) before his Death; for so * Eusebius's Words (here noted in the Margin) do plainly imply: Phædimus, Bishop of Amasea, had no other Hand but that of Heaven and his own, in making the renown'd Gregory Bishop of Neocafarea, as the whole Circumstances of that Affair (related by the K 4


[ocr errors]

learned + Dr. Cave) from Greg. Nyssen, do sufficiently shew. But, not to ainuse ourselves with enquiring after particular Cases, what Sense can we make of that very Primitive Canon of the Church, which taxes the People of a Diocese with

great Iniquity, who would not receive a Bishop ordain’d for them, and sent to preside over them? Nay, suspended the Clergy of that City, for not instructing such an insolent People any better; which are the express Words of the 36th Apoftolical Il Canon? What Sense, I say, can we make of so ancient a Canon as this, if it were not familiarly in Use in those Primitive, Times, to ordain a Bishop for a vacant See without the People having any Concern in it? And they who can believe that Canon to be of later Date than the Third Century, (at the most) after all the Evidence which learned Antiquaries have given to the contrary, will hardly be brought to Rea. son I'm afraid. And yet we need not insist on this neither ; for the constant and settled Cuftom of the Church of Alexandria is so

pregnant an Instance in this case, as supersedes all farther Enquiry in the Matter.

That the twelve Presbyters alone chose their Bishop there to the middle of the Third Century, (at least) is evident enough from S. Jerome's Account of it, (tho', in other respects, the fame


+ See Dr. Cave's Life of Greg. Thaumat. 96. p. 271,

| Ει χBes1ονηθείς επίσκοπο η έαυτά γνώμω, αλλα ωρα τίω τα λαέ μοχθηρίαν, αυτός μύελω οπίσκοπG, 5 5 κλήρG- ή πόλεως αφοριζέθω ότι τοιέτε λα ανυπογάκια παμπάλαι εκ έγκύω. Cản, Apoftol. 36.

Passage is too often misapply'd.) But his Account is this : * At Alexandria, (says he) from Mark the Evangelist to Heraclas and Dionysius's Time, (who were the 13th and 14th Bishops in Succession there) the Presbyters always nominated one their Bishop, chosen from among themselves, and placed in a higher Station. Add to this Evidence the same Account given us (only more fully and particularly stilī) by Severus, who wrote the Lives of the Alexandrian Patriarchs, and by the Arabian and Ægyptian Annalists of that Church, as of Abraham Ecchellensis has recorded them for us; and we shall find it was not only a stated Custom in that Primitive Church for the Presbyters alone thus to choose their Bishop, but that it was a Fundamental Conftitution there, and of S. Mark's own Appointment. What must we think then ? Could the People have a general Right, or Charter of Elečtion granted them, either from Christ or his Apostles, and this Holy Evangelist know nothing of it? Or, if he had known it, would he have establish'd a standing Rule, in that eminent Church of his own Founding, so directly contrary to it?

But, not to insist on these approv'd Records of the Church neither, (tho' the Testimony they


* Nam & Alexandriæ à Marco Evangelistà ufq; ad Heraclam & Dionysium episcopos, presbyteri semper unum ex se eleétum, in excelsiori gradu collocatum, episcopum nominabant. Hieron. Ep. ad Euagr. Edit. Erafm. Bafil. 15 16. Tom. 3. Fol. 150.

+ See Abrah. Ecchellens. de Eccl. Alex. originib. Romæ, 1661. (410.) cap. 6. p. 82, 83, 84. & p. 103 to 107.

bear is strong and plain enough) I shall willing, ly go along with the Enquiry before me, as far as Fact and Truth will give me Leave.

I dispute not, therefore, that very early CuItom of Provincial Bishops repairing to a vacaot See, and in the Presence of the People settling the Eleđion of the intended Bishop, and ordaining him there, in most Provinces I mean, tho' not in all; which is as far as his * Quotations require.

But, to bring the Question to a short issue, What was the Part or Office of the People in those publick Ordinations? The Enquiry, treating of the Presbyter's Examination for his holy Orders, (which, in his Sense, is the making of him Bishop too, as to the Orders that he takes) allows off Testimony and Attestation only of the People in the Case; but when he comes to be made a Bishop indeed, in the true and universal Sense of the Catholick Church, then the Peoples Testimony improves itself into a Claim of Power sufficient to ele£t him Bishop, if they please, or to depose him afterwards, if they think he proves unfit for it.

Now, there are two short Questions to be obferv'd in this Case.

First, Whether the Primitive Church itself, who To commonly ordain'd in the Presence of the People, acknowledg’d any such Power in them, or no?

Secondly, From whence was this Power given, (if such an one there was) and by what Authority was it claim'd ?


* Fere provincias universas. Eng. p. 48. + Saç Eng. p. 88.

To prove that the Primitive Church did acknowledge such a Power, the Enquiry produces two Articles. ift, That of an * African Synod, related by S. Cyprian, [Ep. 68. $ 6. or in the Oxon Edit. Ep. 67.] and translates it thus : The Neighbouring Bishops of the Province (says he) met together at the Church of a vacant See, and chose a Bishop in the Presence of the People, who knem his Life and Conversation before ; which Custom was observ'd in the Election of Sabinus, Bishop of Emerita in Spain, who was ordain'd to that Dignity by the Suffrage of all the Brethren, and of all the Bifhops tbere present. (See Enquiry Pag. 48.]

In this Account of the Case, here are two Parts ; ift, What the general Custom was ; and 2dly, That the particular Ordination of Sao binus was in all Points conformable to it. Of the general Custom, 'tis affirm'd, (in our Author's own Translation) that the Neighbouring Bishops met together at the Church of a vacant See, and chose a Bishop. Here is as plain a Proof (I think) of the Neighbouring Bishops choosing the Person, as Words can make it: What then is said of the People ? Only this, That 'twas in their Presence, who knew his Life and


* Apud nos & fere per provincias univerfas tenetur, ut ad ordinationes rite celebrandas, ad eam plebem, cui præpositus ordinatur, episcopi ejusdem provinciæ proximi quiq; conveniant, & episcopus deligatur, plebe præsente, quæ fingulorum vitam pleniffime novit, & uniuscujusq; a&tum de ejus conversatione perspexit: Quod factum videmus in Sabini ordinatione, ut de uni. verfæ fraternitatis fuffragio, & de episcoporum judicio episcopatus ei deferretur. Cypr. Ep. 68. aut Edit. Oxon.

« PreviousContinue »