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take care of distress'd Christians in more than a single Congregation ? Besides, the Charity of the Church in those days, was, among other Uses, to be employ'd for Relief of Barish'd and Captive Brethren, in Minés, in Islands, in remotest barbarous Countries : In what Sense did the Bishop personally do all this? But I am weary of serious Reasoning, in so flight an Objection as this is.
* And yet what follows, I shou'd less expect to meet with from so judicious a Hand. For he observes, in no less than feventeen or eighteen Instances here produc'd together, that when the ancient Church - Writers give an Account of fundry publick and folemn Acts of Discipline in a Diocese, (as Censures, Excommunications, Absolutions, Elections, Ordinations, or the like) they tell us, they were done before the whole Church, before the Multitude, before all the People, by the Suffrage of all the Brotherhood, with the Knowledge, and in the Presence of the People ; and from hence concludes, that all the whole Diocele personally met together in one place upon these Occasions, and consequently were no more than cou'd make one single Congregation.
And here I cannot bat observe these three Things :
First, That this fingular Construction of such obvious and familiar Forms' of Speech as these are, bears very hard upon the common Sense and Language of all Mankind. Can no publick Act of Civil Justice, or Solemn Ministration in
See Enquiry, &c. po 22, 23, 24.
the Church amongst us, be said to pass in the Face of the Country, before all the People, openly and in the sight of all Men; nay in the face of the mbole World, (as some will think it no Absurdity to say) unless the Matter of Fact will answer to the very Letter of the Phrase? Are not all Publick or Solemn Acts of Church or State ( as to Discipline and Government) familiarly diftioguish'd from any others, by such a Latitude of Expression as this, and no otherwise taken by any Man, (that ever I heard of) than that a general Liberty is given to all, who either can, or will, or are concern'd to be present at them, to come and offer what they think Material; to judge, or bear Witness of the Regularity and Justice of what is done? And if every individual Member of each respective Society were expected to be personally present at such Solemnities as these; neither Courts, nor Halls, nor Cathedrals, were ever yet erected, that cou'd answer the Occasions which the Church or State wou'd have for them; and yet no English Author (I'm persuaded) wou'd think it an Impropriety to say, that such publick Acts of Law or Discipline as these, were done in the Presence, Sight and Cognizance of the whole Country, Church, or People; and if no Exceptions, but rather apparent Acclamations were made, (as is not unusual upon sundry such Occasions ) they wou'd say, they were done with the general Consent, Suffrage, and Approbation of them all. But,
Secondly, That other Way of arguing bears no less hard upon the very Language of the Holy Scriptures themselves; and therefore
there is little Reason to fasten it on the Writings of the Primitive Fathers, who were the true Guardians and Allertors of them.
What more familiar Phrase in the whole History of the Law deliver'd by Moses, and during all the Time of his Government, than that * Moses himself spake to all the Congregation of Israel, whatsoever the Lord commanded him; nay, even in iwe Ears of all the Congregation of Israel, he is said to speak the Words of that Song, which he left for a Testimony amongst them. In what Sense do we conceive he himself could be said to 1peak in the Hearing of so numerous a Holt, as the Children of Israel then were ? At different Times, do we think? or Tribe by Tribe, and by Piece-meals, in his own Person? No, he bimself gives us a better Key for the Understanding of such Phrases as these : For at the 28th Verse immediately foregoing, Gather unto me (says he) the Elders of the Tribes, and the officers, that I may speak these Words in their Ears, and call Heaven and Earth to record against them.
So that it plainly appears, that whatsoever Moses spake in such a Manner, and in such an Audience, as was sufficient to convey his Words and Precepts to all the Tribes of Israel, tho' not immediately from his own Lips, That the Holy Prophet himself thought not improperly express’d, when he said afterwards, that he spoke them to the whole Congregation of Israel.
* Exod. XXXV. 1, 4. Deut. v. 1, xxix. 2. &c. + Deut. XXX. 31.
* And if we can conceive any literal Way of interpreting these, and many such-like Expres. fions in the Holy Bible, so that fix hundred thousand Men should at once be instructed by the Ministry of one Man, we need dispute no more about the greater or lesser Numbers in the Diocese of a Primitive Church, since one such extraordinary Comment as that would answer all for us. But,
Thirdly, To argue more directly ad hominem in this Case: If that Way of Reasoning be right, then it will prove the Dioceses of latter Ages, as well as the Ancientest of them all, to be but meer Congregational Churches too: Compare the Times and Phrases, and you'll find it to be so. Our Enquirer tells us from 6. Cyprian, || that Sabinus was elected Bishop of Emerita by the Suffrage of all the Brotherhood. This was in the Third Age.
Now Théodoret tells us, that Nectarius was made Bishop of Conftantinople -f by the Suffrage of the whole City too; and Flavianus made Bishop of Antioch, s the whole. Church (as it were with one Voice) giving their Suffrage for him. And this was towards the latter End of the Fourth Age. The like says Platina of Gregory the Great, that
* of like Phrases in the New Testament, see Matt. iii. 5. Fob. xii. 19. Ats xvii. 5, Sc.
U De universu fraternitatis suffragio. Cypr. Ep. 68. + Πάσης υποψηφιζομδύης ή πόλεως. .
S Πάσης συμψήφο η Εκκλησίας, ώασερ δια μιάς porns Theod. 1, 5.c. 9. p. 211. Paris. 1673.
he was made Bishop of Rome by the || unanimous Consent of all : And again, 1- All the People cbose him, says Gregory of Tours; and this at the very Close of the Sixth Age.
The learned Enquirer again * tells us, (from an African Synod in 258.) that Ordinations should be done with the Knowledge, and in the Presence of the People; that so they might be fuft and Lawful, being approv'd by the Suffrage and Judgment of - all ; and that accordingly S. Cyprian consulted his people fo: And from hence he infers, that his Diocese could be no more than one Congregation. Now the Roman Prelbyters, in their Letter to Honorius the Emperor, (which was in the Fifth Century) speak just the same thing in relation to Boniface their Bishop, whom they Chofe and Consecrated in that very Manner. S On a Set Day (say they ) calling all to an Assembly, we went to a Church we had all agreed upon, and there consulting with the Christian People, we chose him mhom God had order'd; for by the Applause of all the People, and the Consent of the best in the City, me pitch'd upon the venerable Boniface, a Man Ordain’d and Consecrated by Divine Insti
tution. || Uno omnium consensu creacur pontifex. Platina in Vit. Greg.
+ Gregorium plebs omnis elegit. Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. l. 10. C. I.
* See the Enquiry, p. 24.
9 Altero die ad Ecclesiam ubi prius ab omnibus tum erat conftitutum, habità omnium collatione, properavimus, ibiq; participato cum Chriftiana plebe confilio, quem Deus jussit elegimus; nam venerabilem virum Bonifacium -- acciamacione totius populi ac consensu meliorum civitatis afferuimus, divinæ inftitutionis ordinc confecratum. Baron. An. 419.N. 8. Mag. 1601, p. 442.