Page images

in the Sequel of this Discourse ; and I hall only shew here, what considerable Reasons our ingenious Enquirer has given in this very Treatife of his to persuade himself, and all other Sons of Peace,*( like him ) to consent to this Distin&ion.

The first Reason I observe from him is this, that for want of thus acknowledging this Difference of Order and Prerogative in the ChurchOfficers ordain'd by the Apostles Hands, he has brought a perplexing Difficulty upon himself, and set the Holy Scriptures and Primitive Fathers of the Church at a seeming Variance (at least) and well-nigh palpable Contradi&tion with one another: For thus he tells us, in the very next Paragraph after the two Quotations abovemention'd; * Whether (says he ) in the Apoftolical and Primitive Days there were more Bishops than one in a Church, at first sight seems difficult to resolve ; that the Holy Scriptures, and Clemens Romanus mention many in one Church, (says he) is certain ; and, on the other hand, it is as certain, that Ignatius, Tertullian, Cyprian, and the following Fathers, affirm, that there was and ought to be but One : These Contradictions and seeming Difficulties ( as he calls them ) he takes the pains of writing his elaborate Enquiry in hopes to reconcile. Surely, he had some extraordinary Inclination to solve them in a peculiar and different way from others: For,

The second Reafon I observe from him for re. conciling all at once, is, because he fhews us

a more

* See Enquiry, &c. p. 11. S so

a more plain, natural, and truly primitive Way than that, in one single passage of his Book before us. You may find it in his 4th Chapter, P. 65. of this Enquiry; where his Asertion is, that the first who express'd these Church-Officers by the distint Terms of Bishops and Presbyters, was Ignatius, who lived in the Begin. ning of the second Century. And from hence I crave Leave to observe these three Things.

ift, That as often as we meet with the Word Bishop or Presbyter in the Holy Scriptures, we cannot, by the Term itself, determine which of the two, according to the more distinct Language of the Ages immediately following, we muft necessarily understand by it; unless the Context, or some peculiar Circumstance besides, does more clearly explain it to us. And,

2dly, That the same Latitude of Signification must for the same Reason be allow'd to Clemens Romanus's Bishops and Presbyters too, because that holy Bishop * suffer'd Martyrdom before Ignatius's Epistles were written ; wherein the different and determinate Sepse of those Words (as our learned Enquirer affirms) were first establish'd in the Church. And therefore,

3dly, 'Tis but doing Justice to Tertullian in his Quotation, and allowing him and all the Fathers after him to mean by their Bishops such as the whole Church did then understand, when the Pre-eminence of that Name above the Name of Presbyters was fully settled; and to intera C 3


* Clem. Rom. martyr'd, A. D. 100. S. Ignatius fent 10 Rome, and in his Way writing bis Epistles, A.D. 107 See Dr. Cave's Chron. of the three first Centuries.

pret S. Clemens's Bishops by that unwarrantable Latitude of Signification which is acknowledg’d to have been in general Use in his Time, and consequently no Violence or Injustice is done to his Quotations, if we take them to be meant of such Bishops, as were afterwards determi. nately named and allowed to be no others than common Presbyters, in Subordination to a higher Church-Officer (as to be sure they were at their first Ordination in the Apostles Times) and then the great Perplexity and doubtful Contradiction of the Holy Scriptures and Ves nerable Fathers, about one or more Bishops in one and the same Church at a time, does naturally (and in perfect Analogy to the Sense and Language of the Primitive Church) resolve and reconcile itself. For, that many such Bishops (indifferently callid Presbyters in the Holy Scriptures and first Age of the Church) were placed by the Apostles in particular Churches, is agreed ( I think) by all : But that more Presa byters than one of that determinate Order or Degree, which were peculiarly call’d Bifhops afterwards, such as Clemens placed by S. Peter at Rome, or S. Polycarp by S. John at Smyrna, were ever ordain'd or settled by an Apostle in any particular Church of theirs, I think I may freely say, is no where to be read in all primitive Antiquity ; and our Author's own Quotation from Tertullian here is one very pregnant lnItance of the Thing.

Thus have I fewn what a Peaceable and Authentick Way (agreeable to the Sense and Writings of the early Ages our Enquirer appeals to) he himself has pointed out for us to


compromise that Difference ; and his Labouring to do it in a more intricate and unprecedented Way, I am afraid, will never attain his pious Ends of Peace and Unity so well.

However, in the very next Breath, he fixes upon this for a sure Truth, that there was but one Supreme Bishop in a Place. This seems a very Orthodox and Primitive Assertion : But why such singular Difference, in the Expression itself, from the common Language of the holy Fathers within his own three Centuries? They speak often enough of but one Bishop in a Church; but of one Supreme Bishop in a Church, I don't remember I have ever read in their Writings. Nay, his own Quotations in this very Place (as you may see them in the* Margin here) bear witnefs for me, that the Venerable S. Cyprian and Cornelius did not express themselves fo: And besides, the former of these in the Name of eighty seven African Bishops, then in Council with him, declar'd, that of none of them were Bishops over Bishops. What are we to un. derstand then by this Supreme Bishop, who is to be but Bishop of a single Church too? The Answer is plain : The common Language of the Primitive Fathers would not do here ; it would not suit with the following Scheme of




Vnus in ecclesiâ ad tempus facerdos. Cyp. Ep. 55. 06. [or Ep. 59. p. 129. Edit. Oxon.]

Ουκ ήίςατο ένα Επίσκοπον δεν εί) αν καθολική exxandia. Ad Fabium Antioch. apud Euseb. I. 6. p. 43.

† Neque enim quisquam noftrùm Episcopum se Epissoporum constituit.

Concil. Carthag. in præfat. apud Cypr. p. 229. Edit. Oxon.

this Enquiry. For when those Fathers named a Bishop of a Church, they needed no Epithet of a Superlative Degree to distinguish him from any other Ecclesiastical Officer within the Church, but concluded the Original Order he was of, did that of course for them.

But our learned Author, who discerns what Primitive Antiquity never saw, viz. That every Presbyter who minister'd in any Church, had receiv'd Episcopal Authority by Apoftolical Institution or Succession, as properly and truly as any Bishop in the Catholick Church whatsoever, (which he positively affirms to be so, p. 70. of this Enquiry) stood in need of such a distinguishing Epithet for his single Bishop indeed ; and as his Phrase appears to be thus plainly singular and new, so we may well expect, that the Notion itself, upon which it is grounded, (which I shall not here prevent myself from considering in its Place ) will appear to be so too.

In the mean time, that Orthodox Observation he makes immediately after this, seems somewhat extraordinary, if it were but only for the Timing it. He had just said, there was but one Supreme Bishop in a Church, tho' (as I shew'd just now) there might be many more Bishops there of Apoftolical Institution by their Order (in his Sense of them) as well as that one; and yet forthwith he observes to us, that by the Aladoxe, or Succeffion of Bishops, ordain'd by the Apostles, the Orthodox were wont to prove the Sunc lion of their Faith, And the Novelty of that of Hereticks; and quotes


« PreviousContinue »