Page images
PDF
EPUB

Now, from the Nature of the Thing itself, 'tis clear, that Prayer must be One, either in respect of the Phrase and Words 'tis utter'd or deliver'd in ; or in respect of the Sense and Substance, the Heads or Subject Matter of which it is compos’d: That is, it must be one, either in respect of the Matter, or in respect of the Form of it; for to say it must be one here, upon the Account of admitting but one place or one Person in a Diocese to offer it up, is to beg the Question, which it is brought to prove ; and therefore Unity in either of the other Senses, if it agrees with the holy Martyr's Sense too, is the fair Account of it.

Now, that it is not meant to be One, in the former Sense, relating to the Words or Phrase of it, I suppose will readily be granted ; for that would make the holy Father plainly to prescribe a stinted Form, or meer Common Liturgy in the Church; which our gifted Congregational Bishops, I conceive, would scarce allow. And therefore, 2.dly, it must be understood to be One, in respect of the Sense and Substance of it; or in plainer Terms, it must be Prayer made with strict Analogy to the one common Faith, and found Doctrine of the one Catholick Church throughout the Chri-. stian World, as every true Christian Prayer pecesarily ought to be: And in no other Sense than this, is it conceivable, I think, how even a single Bishop in a Congregational Church, cou'd be said to offer up this pice dénois, or one Prayer with his people, (which is here enjoin'd) who affects, as often as they meet together, to

alter

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

E4

alter the Phrase and Language of his Devotion for them.

And that this was S. Ignatius's Meaning in it, we may reasonably infer, ift, from the Words he immediately joins with it, One Prayer, One Svpplication, (says he) One Mind, and One Hope ; the two latter Words imply a plain Unity in them, and yet have so diffusive a Sense, as to extend to all the Congregations of the Catholick Church; and therefore why not the two former too? And, 2dly, we may infer it also from the Use he was then making of it; which (as I hinted before) was directly to secure them from Schismatical Conventicles, and Heretical Notions; and since the Bishop himself was to approve (as we have seen S. Ignatius himself allow'd him to do) of any Minister whatsoever that should Officiate for them, and thereby reserve to himself the Inspection, Visitation, and Censure of them, (which is a Natural Consequence of it) whatsoever Prayer the People of his Diocese shou'd join in, with such a Commillion'd and Approv'd Presbyter as this, cou'd never bring them into that Danger of Schism the holy Martyr here warn'd them against ; but being Orthodox, and as Conformable to Christian Faith and Doctrine, as the Bishop's own cou'd be, wou'd, in the true Sense of the Primitive Father, and to the great End for which he int ended it, be that uía démons, that one Pray-. er, which the Bishop and all his Diocese were to offer up to God.

And that this was a true Notion of the Unity of Prayer in the Primitive Churches, Tertula lian wou'd fatisfy us, if we wou'd allow him

to

to speak only what he cou'd justify and make good, in his Apology for all the Christians in the Roman Empire : For, tho' we have no Reason to believe, that he frequented many more Congregations than that single one to which he belong’d, as other Christians did; yet he takes the Freedom to declare to the Roman Magistrates, what kind of Prayer the Christian Churches us'd in general, how Innocent their Petitions were, and frankly mentions several Particulars of them, by way of upbraiding them all for persecuting Subjects that Liv'd and Pray'd so loyally and harmlessly as they did. of If he cou'd do this without some Common Liturgies (then at least) in Use amongst them, or some known Canon of the Ministerial Offices; surely, it cou'd be upon no other grounds than this, that he was sure the Christian Churches Prayers were one, and the same, in all Places, in the Sense we are now speaking ; that is, they were bound to bear a strict Analogy to that one Creed, that one and the same System of Christian Doctrine, and that one Divine Model of all Prayer, which our blessed Lord deliver'd to them, and every one of them were known to be guided by. Other Fathers, as ancient or ancienter than Tertullian, speak in the same Manner with him. But on this Head, I think, there needs no more.

To

+ Oramus pro Imperatoribus, pro miniftris eorum, ac poteftatibus, pro ftatu feculi, pro rerum quiete, pro morâ finis. Tert. Appl. c. 39,

To proceed then : The Bishop * (says our learned Author) had but one Áltar, or Coinmunion-Table, in his whole Diocesi, at which his whole Flock receiv'd the Sacrament from him, and that at one time. For Proof of this, he offers those Words of S. Ignatius to the Philadelphians ; of. There is but one Altar, as but one Bishop. To explain which Phrase, I shall use our || Enquirer's own Method, by joining to it a parallel Expression of the admirable S. Cyprian; which is so near a-kin to it, that it seems almost a meer Translation of it; at least, 'tis a most direct and immediate IHustration of it. S. Cya prian's Words are here in the Margin: Our Enquirer renders them thus; S No Man can regularly constitute a new Bishop, or erect a nem Altar, besides the one Bishop and the one Altar. And here I am sorry I must remark a fatal Oversight; (for I am loth to give even this unjust Translation another Name) but 'tis evident, what S. Cyprian here calls a nem Priesthood, and ore Priesthood, our learned Author renders by a new Bishop and one Bishop; which proves, indeed, that he believ'd it a directly parallel Place to that of S. Ignatius, (as it really is) because he translates both in the very same Words. But, in the mean time, he so diiguises this holy Father's Text, that he hides

from

* Enquiry, p. 18, 19.

of "Ev Juoidsherov, os anos é uloxoa, &c. Ep. ad Philadelp. p. 41.

#inq. p. 21.

☺ Aliud altare conftitui, aut Sacerdotium novum fieri, præter unum altare, & unum Sacerdotium, non poteft, Cypr. Ep. 40. 4. Edit. Pamel. Ep. 43, Edit, Oxon.

from the English Reader's Sight the main Key which would open the genuine Sense and Meaning of this, and all such Expressions as these are ; not only in these two venerable Fathers alone, but in all the Writings of Pri. mitive Antiquity besides : For the Unity of the Altar, the ûnity of the Bishop, the Unity of the Eucharist, the Unity of Christian Prayer, and the very Unity of the whole Church it self, are all founded upon the common Bottom that the Unity of the Christian Priesthood is ; and no Man ever so unlock'd the Evangelical Secret of this Catholick and Christian Unity, as the unimitable S. Cyprian has done. So that if his short and plain (but admirable Account of it) were but duly weigh'd and credited, as it ought to be, we should hear but few Enquiries after the Constitution of the Primitive Church, few Amusements about the Fundamental Unity of it, drawn only from a scatter'd Sentence, here and there, in the most uniform Records of the best and ancientest Writers in it.

S. Cyprian's brief Account of it lies in that noted Paslage, so familiar to all who ever read his Works, or almost ever heard his Name: * Episcopacy (says he, in his small Tract of the

Unity

* Episcopatus eft unus, cujus à fingulis in foliduin pars tenetur. Ecclesia quoq; una est, quz in multirudinem latius incremento fæcunditatis extenditur; quo modo solis multi radii, sed lumen unum, &c. Numerofitas licet diffusa videatur exundantis copiæ largitate, unitas tamen servatur in origine. Cypr. de Unit. Eccl. p. 108. Edit. Oxon.

« PreviousContinue »