“ A man of great name in the Church ” “ Vir magni in Ecclesia nomini ” —, Vindiciae Epistolarum S. Ignatii (1672 ) “ The argument of this work has ever been held to be unanswerable; an opinion, the justice of which is best established by the fact, that none has been found who has attempted to answer it. ” —, 1842 ed. of The Perpetual Government of Christ’s Church, p. ; Google Books.
“ been very unwilling to enter into these controversies of discipline, that have now some space troubled the Church of England ; … yet when I saw the peace of God’s Church violated by the sharpness of some men’s humors, and their tongues so intemperate that they could not be discerned from open enemies, I thought as in a common danger, not to sit looking till all were on fire, but rather by all means to try what kind of liquor would extinguish the flame. ”
“ The main supports of their new-devised discipline are the general equality of all pastors and teachers, and the joining of lay elders with them to make up the presbytery ” … “ Against these false grounds, I show the Church of God from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, and so downward under patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, hath been always governed by an inequality and superiority of pastors and teachers amongst themselves ”
To The Christian Reader.
I Have been very unwilling ( good Christian Reader ) to enter into these controversies of Discipline, that have now some space troubled the Church of England. I remembered the words of Abraham to Lot, 1 Let there I pray thee, be no strife betwixt thee and me, nor betwixt my men and thine for we be brethren ; and did thereby learn that all strife betwixt brethren was unnatural. I could not forget the saying of our Saviour, 2 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you ; and so collected how careful we should be to 3 keep the unity of the spirit in the band of peace. Profane writers could tell me, by concord, the weakest things grow strong ; by discord, the mightiest states are overthrown : and that made me loath to increase or nourish the dislikes and quarrels that have lately fallen out in this Realm, betwixt the Professors and Teachers of one and the same Religion. Yet when I saw the peace of God’s Church violated by the sharpness of some men’s humours ; and their tongues so intemperate, that they could not be discerned from open enemies, I thought as in a common danger, not to sit looking till all were on fire, but rather by all means to try what kind of liquor would extinguish this flame.1 Gen. 13. 2 John 14. 3 Ephes. 4.
Another reason leading me to this enterprise, was the discharge of my duty to God, and her Majesty. For finding that some men broached their disciplinary devices under the title of God’s eternal truth, and professed they could no more forsake the defense thereof than of the Christian faith ; and others defaced and reproached the government of the Church here received and established, as unlawful, irreligious and Antichristian ; ( for what lees are so sour, that some hedge wines will not yield? ) I was moved in conscience, not to suffer the sacred Scriptures to be so violently arrested, and over-ruled by the summons and censures of their new Consistories ; as also to clear this state of that injurious slander, as if not knowing or neglecting the manifest voice of Christ’s spirit, we had entertained and preferred the dregs of Antichrist’s pride and tyranny.
These causes of great and good regard led me to examine the chief grounds of both Disciplines, theirs and ours ; and to peruse the proofs and authorities of either part ; that by comparing it might appear, which side came nearest to the sincerity of the Scriptures, and society of the ancient and uncorrupt Church of Christ. The which wholly to propose by way of Preface would be exceeding tedious ; shortly to capitulate, that the Reader may know what to look for, will not altogether be superfluous.
The main supports of their new-devised Discipline are ; the general equality of all Pastors and Teachers ; and the joining of Lay Elders with them to make up the Presbytery, that shall govern the Church. On this foundation they build the power of their Consistory, that must admonish and punish all offences, hear and determine all doubts, appease and end all strifes, that any way touch the state and welfare of the Church. Against these false grounds, I show the Church of God from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, and so downward under Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, hath been always governed by an inequality and superiority of Pastors and Teachers amongst themselves ; and so much the very name and nature of government do enforce. For if amongst equals none may challenge to rule the rest ; there must of necessity be superiors, before there can be Governours. It was therefore a ridiculous oversight in our new platformers, to settle an ecclesiastical government amongst the Pastors and Teachers of the Church, and yet to banish all superiority from them.
Some finding that absurdity, and perceiving confusion of force must follow where all are equal, and no Governour endured ; confess it to be an essential and perpetual part of God’s ordinance, for each Presbytery to have a chief amongst them ; and yet lest they should seem to agnise or admit the ancient and approved manner of the Primitive Church retained amongst us, which is, to appoint a fit man to govern each Diocese ; they have framed a Running regency, that shall go round to all the Presbyters of each place by course, and endure for a week, or some such space ; for the device is so new, that they are not yet resolved what time this changeable superiority shall continue. With this conceit they marvelously please themselves, in so much that they pronounce this only to be God’s institution, and this overseer or Bishop to be Apostolic ; all others they reject as human ; that is, as invented and established by man against the first and authentic order of the holy Ghost.
Thus far we join, that to prevent dissention and avoid confusion there must needs, even by God’s ordinance, be a President or Ruler of every Presbytery ; which conclusion, because it is warranted by the grounds of nature, reason, and truth, and hath the example of the Church of God before, under, and after the Law to confirm it, we accept as irrefutable ; and lay it as the ground-work of all that ensueth. But whether this Presidentship did in the Apostles times, and by their appointment, go round by course to all the Pastors and Teachers of every Presbytery, or were by election committed to one chosen as the fittest to supply that place, so long as he discharged his duty without blame ; that is a main point in question betwixt us. Into which I may not enter, until we have seen what the Apostolic Presbyteries were, and of what persons they did consist at the first erecting of the Church.
Certain late writers, men otherwise learned and wise, greatly misliking in the government of the Church the Romish kind of Monarchy, and on the other side shunning as much popular tumult and Anarchy, preferred a middle course betwixt them of Aristocracy ; thinking the Church would then be best guided, when neither one, for danger of tyranny ; nor all, for fear of mutiny did bear the sway ; but a number of the gravest and sincerest, undertook the managing of all matters incident to the Ecclesiastical Regiment. And for that there was no possibility in every Church and parish to find a full and sufficient company of Pastors and Teachers, to consider and dispose of all causes occurrent ; and the people ( as they thought ) would the better endure the proceedings and censures of their Consistories, if some of themselves were admitted to be Judges in those cases as well as the Preachers ; they compounded their Presbyteries partly of Pastors, and partly of Lay Elders, whom they named ; and by this means they supposed the government of the Church would be both permanent and indifferent.
To proclaim this as a fresh device of their own, would be somewhat odious, and therefore they sought by all means as well with examples, as authorities, to make it seem ancient. For the better accomplishing of their desire ; first, they took hold of the Jewish Synedrion, which had Lay Elders mixed with Levites in every City to determine the people’s causes, and that order being established by Moses, they enforced it as a perpetual pattern for the Church of Christ to follow. To that end they bring the words of our Saviour, 1 Tell it the Church, if he hear not the Church, let him be to the as an Ethnic and Publican.1 Math. 18.
Next, they perused the Apostles writings, to see what mention might be there found of Elders and Governours, and lighting on this sentence of Saint Paul ; 1 The Elders which rule well, are worthy of double honour ; especially, they that labour in the word and doctrine ; they resolutely concluded, there were some Elders in the Church that governed, and yet laboured not in the word and doctrine ; and those were Lay Presbyters. After this place they made no doubt, but Lay Elders were Governours of the Church in the Apostles times, and so settled their judgements in that behalf, that they would hear nothing that might be said to the contrary.1 Tim. 4.
Thirdly, because it would be strange that Lay Elders everywhere governing the Church under the Apostles, no Council, history, nor Father, did ever so much as name them, or remember them, or so conceive the words and meaning of Saint Paul until our age ; they thought it needful to make some show of them in the Fathers writings ; lest otherwise, plain and simple men should marvel to see a new sort of governours wrenched and forced out of S. Paul’s words, whom the Church of Christ in fifteen hundred years never heard of before. And therefore certain doubtful speeches of the Fathers were drawn to that intent ; as where they say, 1 The Church at first was governed by the common advice of Presbyters ; and 2 the Church had her Elders, without whose counsel nothing was done ; yea, some of them were so forward and willing to hear of their lay Presbyters, that wheresoever any Council or Father mentioned Presbyters, they straightway scored up the place for lay Elders.1 Hiero. in epistolam ad Titum, ca. 1. 2 Ambros. in 1. ad Tim. ca. 5.
This is the warp and web of the lay Presbytery, that hath so enfolded some men’s wits, that they cannot unreave their cogitations from admiring their new found Consistories. And indeed the credit of their first devicers did somewhat amuse me, as I think it doth others, till partly inclined for the causes aforesaid, and partly required, where I might not refuse, I began more seriously to rip up the whole ; and then I found both the slenderness of the stuff, and looseness of the work, that had deceived so many men’s eyes.
As first, for the Jewish Synedrion ; I saw it might by no means be obtruded on the Church of Christ. For the Judicial part of Moses law being abolished by the death of Christ, as well as the ceremonial ; the Tribunals of Moses must no more remain, than the Priesthood doth. Moses Judges were appointed to execute Moses law. The punishments therefore and judgements of Moses law ceasing, as under the Gospel there can be no question but they do ; all such Consistories as Moses erected must needs be therewith ended & determined. Again they were civil Magistrates, that Moses placed in every City to judge the people, and had the sword to punish as the law did limit ; Levites being admixed with them to direct them in the doubts and difficulties of the law. Such Presbyteries if they frame us in every parish without the magistrates power and leave ; they make a fair entry upon the Prince’s sword and scepter, under the colour of their Consistories, which I hope they will be well advised before they adventure. Lastly, that lay Elders in Moses law did meddle with discerning or judging betwixt truth and falsehood, things holy and unholy, persons clean and unclean, or did intermeddle with the sacrifices or services of the Tabernacle, I do not read ; but rather the execution and supervision of sacred things and duties belonged to the Prophets, Priests and Levites. So that lay Presbyteries under the Gospel can have no agreement with the Synedrical Courts of Moses, much less any derivement from them ; unless they will tie all Christian kingdoms to the Tribunals and Judicials of Moses law, and give their Elders the sword instead of the word, which God hath assigned to Princes, and not to Presbyters.
The words of Christ in the 18. of Mathew, Tell it to the Church, which they urge to that end ; if they were spoken of such Magistrates as Moses appointed, and to whom the Jews by the prescript of his Law, were to make their complaints ; then pertain they nothing at all to the Church of Christ ; but were a special direction for those times, wherein our Saviour lived, and those persons, that were under the Law. If they be taken as a perpetual rule to strengthen the judgement of Christ’s Church, then touch they no way the Synedrions of the Jews, or any other Courts established by Moses. Let them choose which they will ; neither hurteth us, nor helpeth them.
The place of Saint Paul at a glimpse seemed to make for them ; but when I advisedly looked into it, I found the text so little favouring them, that in precise terms it excluded Lay Elders as no Governours of the Church. For the Apostle there chargeth, that all Presbyters which rule well, should have double honor. His words be plain. 1 The Presbyters, that rule well, let them be thought worthy of double honour. Honour in this place is apparently taken for maintenance ; as the proofs following do import. 2 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out thy corn, and the workman is worthy of his wages. Now by no precept, nor example, will it ever be proved, that Lay Presbyters had in the Apostles times, or should have by the word of God at any time, double honour and maintenance from the Church of Christ. Wherefore they must either give all Lay Elders double maintenance, as Saint Paul willeth, which they do not ; or shut them clean from these words, which yield double maintenance by God’s law to Presbyters that rule well. What the meaning of Saint Paul is in this place, though much might be said, and is said of others, which I have omitted ; yet to satisfy the Reader, I have laid down four several expositions too long to be here inserted, which I willingly permit to the censure of the wise, whether every one of them be not more consonant to the true intent of Saint Paul than theirs is, and as answerable to his words.1 Tim. 5. 2 Timoth. 5.
If Paul in plain words did not disclaim Lay Elders, as having no right to challenge double maintenance from the church, nor other places contradict them ; yet were there no reason upon the needless and jointless construction of this one sentence to receive them. For by what logic prove they out of this place, there were some Presbyters that governed well, and laboured not at all in the word
μάλιστα, which is as much as especially or chiefly, doth distinguish ( as they think ) the one sort from the other by a superior degree ? Doth it not distinguish as well things as persons ? And note so well divers respects as divers subjects ? For example if we should say, Magistrates that govern well, are worthy of double honor, especially they that hear the complaints of the poor. Were he not very fanciful that would hence conclude, there are ergo two sorts of magistrates, one that governeth well, another that heareth the complaints of the poor ? Again, out of these speeches Counsellors that be wise are acceptable to their Princes, especially such as are faithful ; workmen are rewarded for their skill, but especially for their pains ; Pastors that be virtuous are to be wished for, but especially if they be learned : will any sober man infer that fidelity and wisdom, skill and industry, learning and virtue, do not meet in one subject, because especially goeth between them ? Nothing is more common, than by this kind of speech to note as well two divers qualities in one man, as two sundry sorts of men ; yea thereby to prefer a part before the general comprising that part. As Teachers are to be liked for their learning, especially for their knowledge in the Scriptures ; good men are to be loved for their virtues, especially if they be liberal.
[ In these speeches, ( they will say, ) the persons be divers, as well as the things for some Counsellors be wise, that be not faithful ; some workmen expert, that be not painful ; some Pastors learned, that be not virtuous. ] That proveth true, not by any force of these speeches, but by the defect of the persons that want fidelity, industry and integrity. For the words rather imply that both parts should be, and therefore may be found in one man before he deserveth this adjection of especially. As a Counseller must be wise, and especially faithful, before he can be acceptable to his Prince. A workman must be painful, as well as skillful, before he deserve his wages. A Pastour must not only be honest, but also able to discharge his duty, before he should be greatly esteemed. And so by Saint Paul’s words they may conclude, a Presbyter must not only govern well, but also labour in the word, before he may be counted to be especially, or most worthy of double honour : other collection out of the Apostles words they can make none.
And that shall we soon find, if we resolve the Apostles words in such sort, as the nature of the Greek tongue permitteth us. The words stand precisely thus ; (
ὁι καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι, ) Presbyters let them be counted worthy of double honour ; (
μάλιστα ὁι κοπιῶντες ἐν λόγῳ, ) in the word and doctrine. The participles, as every mean scholer knoweth, may be resolved not only by the Relative and his verb, but by many other parts of speech and their verbs, which oftentimes express the sense better than the Relative. As, 1 (
βοῦν ἀλοῶντα οὐ φιμώσεις, ) Thou shalt not muzzle thine ox treading out thy corn, that is, while he treadeth out thy corn, for after thou art not prohibited to muzzle him. So in the sentence which we speak of, Presbyters governing well are worthy of double honor ; well governing is the cause of double honour, neither is double honor due to Presbyters, but with this condition, if they govern well. Then resolve the Apostles words either with a causal or conditional adjunction, which is plainly the speakers intent, and we shall see how little they make for two sorts of Presbyters. Presbyters, if they rule well, are worthy of double honour, especially, if they labour in the word ; or Presbyters for ruling well are worthy of double honour ; especially, for labouring in the word. Here are not two sorts of Elders, ( as they conceive ) the one to govern, the other to teach ; but two duties of each Presbyter ; namely to teach and govern, before he can be most worthy of double honour.
Their own rules confirm the same. Those whom they call Teachers or Doctours must they not labor in the word ? There can be no doubt they must. Are they then most worthy, or so worthy as Pastors be of double honour, who not only labour in the word, but also watch and attend the flock to rule it well ? I trust not. Then Pastors are most worthy, and consequently more worthy than Doctors of double honor, because they not only watch to govern well, but also labour in the word.
If any man strive for two sorts of persons to be contained in these words, though there be utterly no reason to force that collection, we can admit that also without any mention of Lay Elders. I have showed two interpretations, how divers sorts of Presbyters may be noted by these words, and neither of them Lay, to which I refer ye Reader that is willing to see more ; I may not here offer a fresh discourse of things else-where handled.
The brief is, Presbyters we read, and Presbyteries in the Apostolic writings ; but none Lay, that were admitted to govern the Church. Presbyters did 1 attend and 1 feed the flock, as 2 God’s Stewards and were to 3 exhort with wholesome doctrine, and convince the gainsayers ; and Presbyteries, ( as themselves urge, ) did 4 impose hands. These be the duties which the holy Ghost else-where appointeth for the president, and the rest of the Presbytery ; other than these ( except this place of which we reason ) the Scriptures name none ; and these be no duties for Lay Elders : unless they make all parts of Pastoral charge common to Lay Presbyters, and distinguish them only by the place ; as if Pastors were to oversee and feed the flock in the pulpit, and Lay Presbyters in the Consistory. Which if they do, they allow only words to Pastours, and yield to lay Presbyters both Pastoral words and deeds ; giving them authority to feed & watch the flock of Christ more particularly and effectually than Pastours do, or may by their doctrine. Such labyrinths they leap into, when they seek for those things in ye sacred Scriptures, which were never intended.1 Act. 20. 1 1. Pet. 5. 2 1. Corinth. 4. 3 Tit. 1. 4 1. Timoth. 4.
But were the word of God in this point indifferent, which for aught I yet see, is very resolute against them ; the general consent of all antiquity that never so expounded S. Paul’s words, nor ever mentioned any lay Presbyters to govern the Church, is to me a strong rampart against all these new devices. I like not to raise up that discipline from the dead, which hath lain so long buried in silence, which no father ever witnessed, no council ever favoured, no Church ever followed since the Apostles times, till this our age. I can be forward in things that be good, but not so foolish, as to think the church of Christ what belonged to the government of her self, till now of late ; and that the son of God hath been spoiled of half his kingdom by his own servants and Citizens for these 1500. years, without remorse or remembrance of any man, that so great wrong was offered him. I can yield to much for quietness sake ; to this I cannot yield. They must show me their Lay Presbyteries in some ancient Writer ; or else I must plainly avouch their Consistories ( as they press them ) to be a notorious, if not a pernicious novelty.
Since then the Church of Christ, in, and after the Apostles times was not governed by Lay Presbyters, as this new discipline pretendeth ; it resteth that we declare both the Apostolic church and the Primitive after that were directed & ruled ; which I have not failed to perform in many chapters, as far forth as the Scriptures do warrant, and the undoubted Histories of Christ’s Church do lead.
In the Apostles I observe four things, needful for the first founding and erecting of the Church, though not so for the preserving and maintaining thereof ; and four other points that must be perpetual in the Church of Christ. The four extraordinary priviledges of the Apostolic function were : Their vocation immediate from Christ, not from men, nor by men ; Their commission extending over all the earth, not limited to any place ; Their direction infallible, the holy Ghost guiding them whether they wrote or spoke ; and Their operation wonderful, as well to convert and confirm believers, as to chastise and revenge disobeyers. Without these things the Church could not begin, as is easily perceived ; but it may well continue without them. For now God calleth labourers into his harvest by others, not by himself ; Pastors take charge of those Churches that are already planted, they seek not places where to plant new Churches. The Scriptures once written serve all ages for instruction of faith ; and the miracles then wrought witness the power and truth of the Gospel unto the world’s end. Wherefore those things had their necessary force and use to lay the first foundations of the gospel before Christ was known ; but the wisdom of God will not have his Church still depend on those miraculous means, which serve rather to conquer incredulity than to edify the faithful ; 1 signs being ( as the Apostle saith ) not for such as believe, but for such as do not believe.1 1. Corinth. 14. verse 22.
The other four points of the Apostolic delegation, which must have their permanence and perpetuity in the Church of Christ, are the Dispensing the word, Administering the sacraments, Imposing of hands, and Guiding the keys to shut or open the kingdom of heaven. The first two, by reason they be the ordinary means and instruments by which the spirit of God worketh each man’s salvation, must be general to all Pastors and Presbyters of Christ’s Church : the other two, by which meet men are called to the ministry of the word, and obstinate persons not only repelled from the society of the saints, but also from the promise and hope of eternal life, respect rather the cleansing and governing of Christ’s Church, and therefore no cause they should be committed to the power of every Presbyter, as the word and sacraments are. For as there can be no order, but confusion in a commonwealth where every man ruleth, so would there be no peace, but a pestilent perturbation of all things in the Church of Christ, if every Presbyter might impose hands, and use the keys at his pleasure.
How the Apostles imposed hands, and delivered unto Satan, and who joined with them in those actions I have handled in places appointed for that purpose ; whereby we shall perceive, that though the Presbyters of each Church had charge of the word and Sacraments even in the Apostles times ; yet might they not impose hands, nor use the keys, without the Apostles, or such as the Apostles departing or dying left to be their substitutes and successors in the Churches which they had planted. At Samaria Philip 1 preached and baptized ; and albeit he dispensed the word and sacraments, yet could he not impose hands on them, but Peter and John came from Jerusalem, and 2 laid their hands on them, and so they received the holy Ghost. The Churches of 3 Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, were planted before, yet were Paul and Barnabas at their return forced to increase the number of Presbyters in each of those places by imposition of their hands : for so the word 4
χειροτονήσαντες signifieth with all Greek Divines and Histories, as I have sufficiently proved ; and not to ordain by election of the people, as some men of late had new-framed the Text. The churches of Ephesus and Crete were erected by Paul and had their Presbyteries, yet could they not create others, but Timothy and Titus were left there to 5 impose hands, and 6 ordain Elders in every City as occasion required.
Herein who succeeded the Apostles, whether all Presbyters equally or certain chief and chosen men, one in every Church and City trusted with the government both of people and Presbyters, I have largely debated, and made it plain, as well by the Scriptures, as by other ancient Writers past all exception, that from the Apostles to the first Nicene Council, and so along to this our age, there have always been selected some of greater gifts than the residue, to succeed in the Apostles places, to whom it belonged, both to moderate the Presbyters of each Church, and to take the special charge of imposition of hands ; and this their singularity in succeeding, and superiority in ordaining, have been observed from the Apostles times, as the peculiar and substantial marks of Episcopal power and calling.
I know some late Writers vehemently spurn at this ; and hardly endure any difference betwixt Bishops and Presbyters, unless it be by custom and consent of men, but in no case by any order or institution of the Apostles ; whose opinions together with the authorities on which they build, I have according to my small skill examined, and find them no way able to rebate the full and sound evidence that is for the contrary. For what more pregnant probation can be required, than that the same power and precepts, which Paul gave to Timothy, when he had the charge of Ephesus, remained in all the Churches throughout the world, to certain special and tried persons authorized by the Apostles themselves, and from them derived to their after-comers by a general and perpetual succession in every church and city without conference to enlarge it, or Council to decree it ; the continuing whereof for three descents the Apostles saw with their eyes, confirmed with their hands, and Saint John amongst others witnessed with his pen, as an order of ruling the Church approved by the express voice of the Son of God. When the original proceeded from the Apostles mouth, and was observed in all the famous places and Churches of Christendom, where the Apostles taught, and while they lived ; can any man doubt whether that course of governing the Church were Apostolic ? For my part, I confess I am neither so wise, as to over-reach it with policy ; nor so wayward as to withstand it with obstinacy.
Against so main and clear proofs, as I dare undertake will content even a contentious mind, when he readeth them, are pretended two poor places, the one of Ambrose, the other of Jerome : the first avouching, that in the beginning the Episcopal prerogative went by 1 order before it came by way of election unto desert ; the other resolving that Bishops are 2 greater than Presbyters rather by the custom of the Church, than by the truth of the Lord’s disposition. Both these authorities I have throughly discussed, and laid forth the right intent of those Fathers, not only by comparison of other Writers, but even by their own confession, lest any should think I draw them to a foreign sense besides their true meaning. For when Jerome and Austen allege the use and custom of the Church, for the distinction betwixt Bishops and Presbyters ; if it be understood of the names and 3 titles of honor, which at first were common to both, and after divided by the 3 use of the Church, as Austen expresseth ; we can absolutely grant the places without any prejudice to the cause. If it be applied to their power and function in the church ; it is most true, that Jerome saith, Presbyters were subject ( in such sort as the Primitive Church observed ) rather by custom than by the truth of the Lord’s ordinance. For Presbyters in the Primitive Church, as appeareth by Tertullian, Jerome, Possidonius and others, might neither 4 baptize, 5 preach, nor 6 administer the Lord’s supper without the Bishop’s leave, especially in his presence ; which indeed grew rather by custom for the preservation of order, than by any rule or commandement of the Lord. By the word of God, a Bishop did nothing, which a Presbyter might not do, save imposing of hands to ordain. That is the only distinction in the Scriptures betwixt a Bishop and a Presbyter, as 7 Jerome and 8 Chrysostom affirm ; other differences which the church kept many, as to impose hands on the baptized and converted ; to reconcile penitents, and such like, were rather peculiar to the Bishop for the honour of his calling, than for any necessity of God’s Law.1 Ambros. in Ephes. ca. 4. 2 Hiero. in epistol. ad Titum. 3
August. epist. 19 secundum honoru vocabula, quae iam acclesiae usus obtinuit.4 Tertul. de Baptismo. 4 Hiero. adversus Luciferianos. 5 Possidonius de vita Augustini. 4 5 Leo epist. 88. 6 Concil. Carthaginens. 2. ca. 9. 7 Hiero. ad Evagr. 8 Chrysost. homil. 11. in 1. ad Timotheum.
If any man urge further out of Jerome, that there was no Bishop at all, nor chief Ruler over the Church and Presbytery of each place in the Apostles times ; I answer him with the resolution of one of the greatest patrons of their new discipline. 1 (
Non ita desipuisse existimandus est, ut somniaret neminem illi coetus praefuisse, ) Jerome is not to be thought to have been so unwise, as to dream the Presbytery had no chief Ruler, or President. 1 It is a perpetual and essential part of God’s ordinance, that in the Presbytery one chief in place and dignity should govern each action or meeting. And again, 2 (
Tales Episcopos divinitus, & quasi ipsius Christi voce constitutos absit ut unquam simus inficiati ; ) that such Bishops as were Pastors in every City, and chief of their Presbyteries, were appointed from heaven, and as it were by the voice of Christ himself, God forbid we should ever deny.
This saieth he on the behalf of the new Discipline. On the other side I say, God forbid I should urge any other, but such as were Pastours over their Churches, and Governours of the Presbyteries under them. If we thus far agree, what cause then had those turbulent heads ( I speak not of them all ) which to ease their stomachs, or to please their maintainers, jested and railed rather like Stage-players than Divines, on those whom the wiser sort amongst them cannot deny were , and appointed by the voice of Christ himself ? If their reasons be not the stronger and weightier, howsoever they flatter themselves in floweries, let them remember who said, 3 he that despiseth you, despiseth me ; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
They will haply save themselves, for that our Bishops differ from the Apostolic Bishops in many things ; as namely theirs 1 succeeded in order, ours by election ; the dignity was in the Apostles times 1 common to every Presbyter in his course, now it is proper to one ; with them it 1 endured for a season, as a week or a month ; with us for life, except by just cause any deserve to be removed ; lastly, they had but 1 priority of place and authority to moderate the meetings and consultings of the rest ; ours have a kind of impery over their fellow-Presbyters. These be precisely the points, wherein one of the best learned of that side contendeth the ancient and Apostolic institution of Bishops was changed by process of time into another form established by custom, and confirmed by consent of men : these be his own words, I have not altered or inverted the sense or sentence. If any of these differences were true, yet are they no causes to discredit the custom of the Primitive Church in electing her Bishops to hold their places, so long as they governed well. For the same writer pronounceth of these very things, ( setting the last aside; ) 2 neque
in istis quicquam est quod reprehendi possit, neither in these things is there aught that can be misliked. But indeed there is not one of all these diversities that can be justly proved either by Scripture or Father. They are the conceits of some late Writers, that as touching the office and function of Bishops would fain find a difference betwixt the Apostles times, and the next ages ensuing, lest they should be convinced to have rejected the of the ancient and Primitive Church of Christ, without any good and sufficient warrant. The consent of all ages and Churches is so strong against them, that they are hard driven to hunt after every syllable that soundeth anything that way, and yet can they light on no sure ground to build their late devices on, or to weaken the general and perpetual course which the Church of Christ hath in all places kept inviolable even from the Apostles times.
A few words of Ambrose are set down to bear all this burden : but they are so insufficient and impertinent to this purpose, that they betray the weakness of their new frame. For Ambrose speaketh not one word either of going by course, or of changing after a time ; only he saith, Bishops at first were placed by order, and not by election, that is, the eldest or worthiest had the place while he lived ; and after him the next in order without any further choice. For that order which he speaketh of, ( if any such were, ) proceeded from the first planters of the Churches, and went either by seniority of time, or priority of place allotted every man according to the gifts and graces which he had received of the holy Ghost. This we may freely grant without any repugnance, or annoyance to the vocation or function of Bishops ; let the Disciplinists confess there was a superiour and distinct charge of the President or chief from the rest of the Presbyters, as well in guiding the keys as imposing hands ; and whether they were taken to the office by election or by order, to us it is all one ; I hope the placing of the Presbyters in order according to their gifts in the Churches where the Apostles preached, could not be without the Apostles oversight and direction. And so long, whether they set such in order as were fittest for the place ; or whether they left it to the discretion and election of the rest, we greatly force not. Howbeit the words of Jerome are so express that Bishops were made by election even in the Apostles times, that I see not how they should be reconciled with their collection out of Ambrose, 1 At Alexandria, even from Mark the Evangelist, the Presbyters always choosing one of themselves, and placing him in an higher degree, called him a Bishop. Mark died six years before Peter and Paul, as the Ecclesiastical history witnesseth, and consequently the first Bishop of Alexandria was elected in the Apostles times ; yea that Church ( as Jerome saieth ) did always elect, there never succeeded any by order.1 Hiero. in epist. ad Evagrium.
For the manner of their succeeding whether by order or by choice, I make not so great account, as for their Continuance. The Patrons of the late Discipline would make us believe, that in the Apostles times the Episcopal dignity or regiment of the Presbytery went round by course to all the Presbyters, and endured a week or some such time, ( for guesses must serve them when other proofs fail them; ) which assertion of theirs I know not whether I should think it proceeded of too much ignorance, or too little conscience. If the men were not well learned, I should suspect ignorance ; if the case were not more than clear, I would not challenge their conscience. But being as they are, and the case so clear, that in my simple reading I never saw clearer, nor plainer, ( excepting always the certainty of the sacred Scriptures, ) let the Christian Reader judge, for I dare not pronounce, with what intent a manifest truth is not only dissembled, but stoutly contradicted, and an evident falsehood avouched and advanced to the height of an Apostolic and divine ordinance, by the chiefest pillars of these new found Consistories.
It is lately delivered as an Oracle, that under the Apostles there were no Governors of the Presbyteries, ( whom they and we call Bishops ) but such as endured for a short time, and changed round by course ; and this is called the Apostolic and divine institution. How palpable an untruth this is, it is no hard matter for mean scholers to discern. The first Bishop of Alexandria after Mark was Anianus made the 1 eightyear of Nero’s reign, and he continued 2 two and twenty years before Abilius succeeded him. Abilius sat 3 thirteen years, and dying, left the place to Cerdo. These three succeeded one another, Saint John yet living ; neither had Alexandria any more than two Bishops in 35. years after the death of Mark. 4 Evodius made Bishop of Antioch five and twenty years before the death of Peter and Paul, survived them one year ; and after him succeeded 5 Ignatius, who outlived Saint John, and died in the 6 eleventh year of Trajan, leaving the place to Heron, after he had kept it forty years ; so that in 66. years the Church of Antioch had but two Bishops. At Jerusalem 7 James called the Lord’s brother sat Bishop thirty years, and 8 Simeon that succeeded him kept the place eight and thirty years, the Church of Jerusalem having in threescore and eight years but two Bishops. At Rome while Saint John lived there were but three Bishops, Linus, Anacletus, and Clemens, which three continued two and thirty years.1 Euseb. lib. 2. ca. 24. 2 Idem li. 3. ca. 13. 3 Idem li. 3. ca. 21. 4 Euseb. Chronicon. in anno 45. 5 Idem in anno 71 6 Ibid. in an. 111. 7 Ibidem in annis 33. & 63. 8 Ibidem in annis 63. & 111.
If this be not sufficient, let them take the example of Polycarpe, made Bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles themselves, and continuing a long time Bishop of that Church, and 1 departing this life a very aged man, with a most glorious and most noble kind of Martyrdom. The space he sat Bishop of Smyrna, if it were not 2 fourscore and six years, ( for so long he had served Christ, as his answer showeth to the Proconsul of Asia, ) yet it must needs be above threescore and ten years. For he lived so many years after Saint John, whose scholler he was, and by whom he was made Bishop of Smyrna ; and died, as the whole Church of Smyrna in their letters entitled him at the time of his death, (
ἐπίσκοπος τῆς ἐν Σμύρνῃ καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας, ) Bishop of the Catholic Church at Smyrna. This one instance is able to mar the whole plot of their supposed Apostolical & changeable regency ; for no part of this History can be doubted. Was he not made bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles? 3 Jerome, 4 Eusebius, 5 Tertullian, and 6
Irenaeus that lived with him, and learned so much of him, affirm it. Lived he not Bishop of Smyrna so long time? The whole Church of Smyrna gave him that title at his death : their letters be yet extant in Eusebius. The Emperours under whom he died were 7 Marcus Antoninus, and Lucius Aurelius Commodus ( as Eusebius and Jerome do witness ) who began their reign 8 64. after the death of Saint John, Polycarpe suffering the 9 seventh year of their Empire ; and
Irenaeus testifieth that he came to Rome under 10 Anicetus the tenth Bishop there, & declared the truth which he had received from the Apostles. Did he through ambition retain the place to which the Apostles called him longer than he should ; and so altered the Apostolical kind of government ? I had rather challenge the Consistorians for mistaking Ambrose, than Polycarpe for inverting the Apostolic Discipline. The Church of Smyrna called him 11 (
διδάσκαλος, ἀποστολικὸς καὶ προφητικός, ) the Apostolical and Prophetical Teacher of their times.
Irenaeus saith of him, 12 he always taught those things which he learned of the Apostles, which he delivered unto the Church, and they only are true.
And if he were not a man of far more authority, and certainer fidelity, than any that contradict him, yet have we all the Churches of Christendom, & their successions of Bishops from the Apostles, and all histories and monuments of antiquity to concur with him, that Bishops living in the Apostles days, & made by the Apostles hands, continued their places til they died, neither is there any man living that is able to show one example to the contrary. Let the Christian Reader then say, whether it be not a vain and false surmise which some in our age so mightily maintain, that the Bishops which the Apostles ordained to rule the Presbyteries, endured for some short space, & changed by course, that superiority going round in order to every Presbyter ; and the election of Bishops to govern the Churches and Presbyters committed to their charge, so long as they did it carefully, was man’s invention, and no Apostolic institution.
The domination of bishops will be their last refuge ; otherwise, in elections of Bishops to continue while they do their duties, the best learned of them confess, there is nothing that can or should be reprehended, only they repine that a Bishop should have jurisdiction over his Copresbyters. And here they are plentiful with places of Scripture, as if we went about to make Bishops, Lords and Masters over the Church, and all the rest to be their servants. They allege the words of Christ ; 1 Great men exercise authority, you shall not do so ; and of Peter, 2 Feed the flock, not as Lords ( or commanders ) over God’s inheritance ; but to what purpose, I see not. Mean they by these places to prove, that the Apostles had no superiority nor authority in the Church of God, or that Pastors have no power over their flocks ? It were more than childish to impugn one truth by another. They themselves do agnise that the Apostles had superiority and 3 authority by Christ’s own commission, above and 3 over all other degrees to erect and order the Churches where they preached ; and they yield, 4 Pastors authority over their flocks to command in the name of the Lord. Then, neither these places, nor any other in the Scriptures do bar Pastoral power over the flock, nor distinction of degrees betwixt the Teachers. Superior and inferior degrees, if Christ’s words did exclude, no man might admit them or defend them as lawful. If the Apostles to whom, and of whom Christ there spoke, did notwithstanding his speech, retain diversities of degrees in the Church ; it is evident our Saviour did not forbid Superiority, but Impery ; not Pastoral, but Regal authority ; not , but Masterly preeminence ; and that in respect as well of the people, as of the Presbyters ; Peter calling the people God’s heritage, and before and after naming them, the Lord’s flock.1 Math 20. 2 1. Pet. 5. 3 Theodore Beza De Ministrorum evangelii gradibus ca. 6. & 15. 4 Ibidem. ca. 20.
And how should it possibly be otherwise ? For since the holy Ghost requireth the faithful to 1 obey their Leaders, and to be subject to them, no Scriptures do cross the authority and inspection which the guiders of Christ’s Church should have over their flocks ; and God by his eternal Law comprising Pastors under the name of , and assigning them the honour due unto Parents, we may not by colour of any words bereave them of obedience and reverence, no more than of maintenance, which are the parts and effects of power and honour. So long then as we give Bishops no charge but Pastoral, no power but paternal, we are not in danger of violating either our Saviour’s, or his Apostles precept ; and consequently this kind of superiority, may not be called or supposed to be Dominion nor Impery ; without wrong to the spirit of truth that hath confirmed it as needful and healthful for the house of God, even from the first foundation of the world.1 Hebr. 13.
They will easily grant fatherly moderation and Pastoral power unto Bishops over the people, but not over the Presbyters ; on this they set up their rest, that no Pastour should have power over others of the same calling, and hope assuredly to have the victory. But they must first reconcile their own contrarieties, they will triumph else before the conquest for each Presbytery, as themselves confess, must have a President by God’s essential and perpetual ordinance. I ask now, whether God give any man a bare title without any truth, and a Regiment without all authority ; or whether in God’s Law deeds and words concur, and he be called
προεστὼς, a President ; that is appointed and authorized by God to execute that office. The mouth of God intendeth not for mockeries as man’s doth, and therefore the name never goeth without the thing. He is just in his speech, and will not utter the word that shall delude the hearer. If then by God’s Law there must be Presidents over Presbyteries, inevitably there must be Governours and Superiours over them. If some must moderate the meetings of Presbyters and execute their decrees, of force they must have power and authority over Presbyters ; and so it is mainly consequent out of their own positions, which they most refuse.
Again, when Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to 1 impose hands, to 1 receive accusations against Presbyters, and 1 openly to rebuke such as sinned ; did he not give him power over Presbyters ; and even the self same that is challenged at this day to belong to Bishops ? If it were lawful and needful at Ephesus for Timothy to have that right and authority over the Presbyters, that were joint-Pastors with him, how commeth it now to be a tyrannical and Antichristian power in his successours ?1 Timoth. 5.
Timothy, they will say was an Evangelist ; and could have no successours. If none could succeed him in that power, how come their Presbyteries to have it ? will they be Evangelists ? what, Lay Elders and all ? and shall the Presbyteries of the whole world succeed Timothy in his charge at Ephesus ? That were news indeed. If this authority to impose hands, to receive accusations, and rebuke sins must remain in the Church for ever, as it is evident it must ; then was it no Evangelistical authority, but a general and perpetual function in the Church of Christ ; that might, and did admit others to succeed Timothy in the same place and power ; and the rest of the Apostolic Churches had the like order, as appeareth by their successions of Bishops set even from the Apostles and their followers.
Of Timothy’s successours if any man doubt, the Council of Chalcedon will tell him the number of them. 1 From blessed Timothy unto this present, the 27. Bishops that have been made, have been all ordained at Ephesus. Other 2 Apostolic Churches ( as Tertullian saith ) had the like order of Bishops, so derived by succession from the beginning, that the first Bishop had for his Author and Antecessor one of the Apostles, or some Apostolic man, which had continued with the Apostles. So the Bishops of Cyprus in the third general Council of Ephesus did witness for their Island. 3 Troylus, say they, Sabinus, Epiphanius, and the most holy Bishops that were before them, and all that have been even from the Apostles, were ordained by such as were of Cyprus.1 Concil. Chalcedonens. actio 11. 2
Tertul. de praescriptionibus advers. haeretic.3 Concil. Ephesinum in suggestione Episcoporum Cypri.
If Timothy’s commission dip too deep for the Presbyters store ( howbeit all the ancient fathers with one consent make that Epistle a very pattern for the Episcopal power and calling ; ) yet the authority which so many thousand learned and godly Bishops have had and used with the liking and allowance of all Churches, Councils and Fathers even from the Apostles times, should to no reasonable man seem intolerable or unlawful ; except we think that the whole church of Christ, from her first planting till this our age, lacked not only religion but also understanding to distinguish betwixt Pastoral moderation & tyrannical domination ; to which humor if any man incline, I must rather detest his arrogancy, than stand to refute so gross an absurdity. I will therefore set down in a word or two the sum of that power which Bishops havue had above Presbyters ever since the Apostles times ; if the Disciplinarians think it repugnant to the word of God, I would gladly hear, not their opinions and assertions, which I have often read and never believed, but some quick and sure probations out of the sacred Scriptures, and those shall quiet the strife betwixt us.
The Canons called Apostolic, alleged by themselves as ancient, say thus ; 1 The Presbyters and Deacons let them do nothing without the knowledge, or consent of the Bishop. He is the man that is trusted with the Lord’s people, and that shall render account for their souls. Ignatius Bishop of Antioch almost thirty years in the Apostles times, agreeth fully with that Canon, and saith ; 2 Do you nothing, neither Presbyter, Deacon, nor Layman without the Bishop, neither let anything seem
εὔλογον orderly, or reasonable without his liking. (
τὸ γὰρ τοιοῦτο παράνομον, και θεοῦ ἔχθρον, ) for it is unlawful and displeasant to God. And again, 3 (
μηδεὶς χωρὶς ἐπισκόπου τί πραττέτω τῶν ἀνηκόντων εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, ) without the Bishop let no man do anything that pertaineth to the Church.
The ancient councils of 4 Ancyra, 5 Laodicea, 6 Arles, 7 Toledo, and others acknowledge the same rule to be Christian and lawful ; yea, no Council or father did ever attribute any such power to the Presbyters, as by number of voices to over-rule the Bishops in every thing, as our late reformers have devised ; rather to retrive the world to their pleasures, than to imitate any former example of Christ’s Church, or to reverence the rules that are delivered in holy Writ.
If then we seek for right ; they were such as were left or sent by the Apostles to be Pastors of the Churches, and Governours of the Presbyteries in every City that believed, so long as they ruled well ; and in their stead, as their successours to receive charge of ordaining others for the work of the Ministry, and guiding the keys with the advice and consent of such as laboured with them in the word and doctrine. These parts, if I be not deceived, are fully proved in their convenient places ; thither I remit the Reader that is desirous to see more. It sufficeth me for this present, that no part of this power can be justly challenged as tyrannical or intolerable by the grounds of Divine or human Laws ; and therefore the objecting of domination, is a superfluous, if not an envious quarrel of theirs, declaring they either do not, or will not understand the matter for which we chiefly contend.
Touching Synodal decrees, and Princes Laws for Ecclesiastical causes, since they must of force be committed to the care and conscience of some that shall execute them ; I have examined who are the meetest men to be put in trust with those matters ; in whom there can be justly no suspicion nor occasion of tyrannical dealing so long as Diocesans and Metropolitans are limited by written Laws in each case what they shall do, and every man that findeth himself grieved, permitted to appeal from them to Synods or Princes ; one of the which must needs take place, howsoever the Church be either in persecution or peace. I have likewise showed the necessity and antiquity of Dioceses, of Synods, of Primates or Metropolitans ; as also whether the people by God’s Law must elect their Pastors before they can be rightly and duly called. Of these things and many such questions pertaining to the government of Christ’s Church, I have made special and full discourses ; not omitting any point that was worth the searching.
In all which as throughout the whole book, when I object anything that is or may be said on their behalf that maintain these new-found Consistories, I have caused it to be printed in another letter, and distinguished from the rest of the Text with this mark [ ] as it were to enclose it.
What I have performed, the Christian Reader shall best perceive ; if he take the pains to peruse it. All men’s humors I do not hope, I do not seek to satisfy. Such as are deceived with ignorance of the truth, may haply by this be somewhat occasioned, if not directed to a further search ; singular conceits that are in love with their own devices, swelling spirits that endure no superiors, covetous hearts that hunt after spoils, when all is said, will have their dreams, if they cannot have their wills ; these diseases are so desperate, they pass my skill, if it were a great deal more than it is.
My purpose was and is, the peace of God’s Church, so far as it may stand with the truth of his word, and fellowship of his Saints, that have gone before us with wonderful graces of his spirit, as well for the greatness of their learning as holiness of their lives ; and to that end have I so tempered and delayed my style, that I might not justly offend such as are otherwise minded ; unless the refusing of their private fancies will provoke the heat of their displeasures. I have always had before mine eyes, the most of them are brethren for the truth’s sake ; howsoever some of them fall to open enmity for this humour of Jewish Synedrions and Lay Presbyteries. Let them read ; if they bring better, I am willing to learn ; but I like no self-set assertions, as if all the world were bound to the very breath of our mouths or dash of our pens, without any other Text or interpreter.
If I have said aught that is not allowed by the word, or not witnessed by the and practice of Christ’s Church, I desire not to be believed ; I look for the like measure, if any man reply ; not to hear the conjectural and opinative guesses of some that lived in our age, but such effectual reasons and substantial authorities as may press the gainsayer, and settle the consenter. God make us zealous for his, not for our wills ; and so gui-
The original and domestical Discipline of the Church before the Law.
The Levitical and National regiment of the Church under the Law.
The personal and perpetual kingdom of Christ, after he took flesh.
The Synedrical Jurisdiction, which some men think our Saviour in the Gospel restored and recommended to his Church.
The Apostolical preeminence and authority before and after Christ’s ascension.
What Dominion and titles Christ interdicted his Apostles.
Who joined with the Apostles in election of Elders, and imposition of hands.
The Apostolic power in determining doubts of faith, and delivering unto Satan.
What parts of the Apostolic power and charge were to remain in the Church after their decease, and to whom they were committed.
What the Presbytery was which the Apostles mention in their writings, and whether Lay Elders were of that number or no.
What Presbytery the Primitive Churches and Catholic Fathers did acknowledge, and whether Lay Elders were any part thereof, or no.
To whom the Apostles departing or dying left the government of the Church : whether equally to all Presbyters, or chiefly to some : and how far the conceits of late Writers herein vary from the ancient Fathers, whose words they pretend to follow.
That some chief ever since the Apostles times have been severed from the rest of the Presbyters in every City by power of ordination and right of succession, whom the Fathers before us did, and we after their example do call Bishops.
The fatherly power and Pastoral care of Bishops over Presbyters and others in their Churches and Dioceses.
To whom the elections of Bishops and Presbyters doth rightly belong, and whether by God’s Law the people must elect their Pastours, or no.
The meetings of Bishops in Synods, and who did call and moderate those assemblies in the Primitive Church.
The Perpetual Government Of Christ ’ s Church.
To whom the Apostles departing or dying, left the government of the Church ; whether equally to all Presbyters, or chiefly to some ; and how far the conceits of late writers herein, vary from the ancient Fathers, whose words they pretend to follow.
THat order and discipline are not only profitful, but also needful in the Church of God ; and as well amongst Pastours and Teachers, as learners and hearers, might many ways be confirmed, if it were not on all sides concorded. They that most dissent in the kind of government, do first agree on the use of government ; they would else not strive for that which might still be wanted, and never missed in the Church of Christ. 1
τάξις μήτηρ τῶν ὄντων ἐστὶ καὶ ἀσφάλεια. Order, saieth Nazianzene, is the mother and preserver of all things. The utility and necessity whereof, as in all states and creatures, so specially in the Church of God, and in the Pastours and Governors thereof, he that liketh at large to examine, let him read Nazianzen’s oration plentifully and purposely written of that Argument. Only I advise with him, that under a show of religion and zeal ; 2 No man be wiser than he should, no man uprighter than the law, clearer than the light, straighter than the rule, nor forwarder than the commandement. If order and discipline be necessary for all persons and ages in the Church of Christ ; the government of the Church must not cease with the Apostles, but endure as long as the Church continueth, that is, to the world’s end ; and consequently so much of the Apostolic power, as is requisite for the perpetual regiment of the Church, must remain to those that from time to time supply the Apostles charge, and succeed in the Apostles rooms.
Before we enter to entreat of the first institution of Bishops, we must carefully distinguish these three points. The things which must be derived from the Apostles to their helpers and successours in all Ages and Churches ; the persons to whom they were committed ; and the times when. If we wander in these, we shall never get any certain resolution of the matter in question.1 Cap. 9. fol. 107.
The parties to whom these ecclesiastical duties might possibly be committed, we then also numbered, and found four sorts of them ; the people, the lay Elders, the Presbyters, and the Bishops. The people must needs be excluded from intermeddling with Pastoral duties, for if all should be Teachers, who should be hearers ? If there were none but shepherds, what should become of the flock ? He that hath put a difference betwixt the 1 Stewards and the household, the 2 labourers and the harvest, the 3 watchmen and the Citizens, the 4 builders and the stones, the 5 Sower and the ground, the 6 husbandmen and the tillage, the 7 leaders and the followers ; even the same Lord hath prohibited these degrees to be confounded, which he hath distinguished. 8 Are all Apostles ? are all Prophets ? are all teachers ? I think not. If the whole body were the eye, where were the hearing ? if the whole were hearing, where were the smelling ? Intrusion upon men, is injurious ; upon God, is sacrilegious. The examples of 9 Korah, whom the earth swallowed ; of 10 Uzziah stricken to death, and Uzziah plagued with the leprosy for affecting and invading the Priest’s office are well known. Chrysostom saith of the last, 11 He entered ( the Temple ) to usurp the Priesthood, and he lost his kingdom. He entered to become more venerable, and he became more execrable. So evil a thing it is not to abide within the bounds that God hath appointed us, either of honour or knowledge.1 Math. 24. 2 Luke 10. 3 Ezeach 33. 4 1. Pet. 2. 5 Math. 13. 6 1. Cor. 3. 7 Hebr. 13. 8 1. Cor. 12. 9 Num. 16. 10 2. Sam. 6. 11 Chrysost. homil. 5. de verbis Esaia vidi Dominum.
What I say of the people, I say likewise of lay Elders, for so much as they are but a part of the people ; and look what the whole is prohibited, every part is interdicted. If Lay men may intermeddle with ecclesiastical functions, why not the people? If the people may not, why should the Elders, since both are Lay? If they renounce the execution, and challenge the supervision of ecclesiastical duties ; they fly from one Rock, and fall on another; they clear themselves from the word, and entangle themselves with the sword. Governours of the Church that be neither ministers nor Magistrates, I yet conceive none ; if any man’s skill be so good, that he can describe us a government betwixt both, that shall wrong neither, I would gladly give him audience. Howbeit we need not trouble our heads with the manner of government that lay Elders must have distinct from the Priests and Princes calling, before we have better proof for the persons, that shall enjoy this privilege. When you make it appear there were such officers in the Church of Christ, we will then entreat you to bound out their office by the word of God, or writings of the ancient fathers ; till then we stand resolved there were never such Governours nor government established by the Apostles, nor acknowledged by their after-comers in Christ’s Church. The places pretended both in Scriptures and Fathers for such Elders, we have leasurably perused and examined, and we find not so much as the footesteps of any Lay Elders. Presbyters we find and Rulers ; but no reason to lead, they were lay Presbyters or Rulers. Against them we find all the Christian & ancient Councils, laws and fathers that ever mentioned any Presbyters. If I shuffle any writer’s words, or dazzle the Reader’s eyes, show me the place, I will yield to mine errour. In the mean time I take him to witness that is Judge of all secrets, I endevoured to walk soundly and simply, without swaying or leaning to either side more than the evidence of the truth enforced me.
Two sorts are left, ( for I still profess that lay Elders were never admitted to meddle with any such matters ) to whom the Apostolic power and charge, which must always remain in the Church, may be communicated and imparted ; and those are Presbyters and Bishops. By Presbyters, I mean those, whom all the Catholic Fathers and Councils with one consent call Presbyteros, placing them in the middle between Bishops and Deacons, when they divide the Clergy into Episcopos, Presbyteros, & Diaconos ; Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons. Lay Elders I overskip as mere strangers to all antiquity. So that when I speak of Presbyteries, I understand thereby the assemblies of such Presbyters, as were Clergy men, and in every City assisted the Bishop in the service of God, and advised the Bishop in all other affairs of the Church. Thus much I premonish, lest the often use of the word Presbyter in this chapter should either perplex or unsettle the Reader.
The times must likewise be remembered. The Apostles both in teaching and governing the Churches, when they were present, had helpers ; when they were absent, had substitutes ; after their final departures or deaths, left successours. So that the things originally descending from the Apostles, and continually remaining in the Church, are the charge of the word and Sacraments, and the power of keys and hands : the persons to whom they were committed, either Presbyters or Bishops : the times when, the presence, absence, departure or death of the Apostles. If we neglect or confound these parts, we shall but rove in the air, at the right government of the Church ; if we observe them, we shall force the Question to an Issue that will not deceive us. And first for the word and Sacraments.
It may not be denied, but as the word and Sacraments are the most essential seeds of the Church, so the handling and sowing thereof in the Lord’s ground must be the general and principal charge of all Pastours and Presbyters ; that either feed or rule the flock of Christ. For whether they be Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, Pastours or Teachers, I mean such as 1 Paul reckoneth to the Ephesians, for the work of the Ministry ; or as the holy Ghost in other places calleth them 2 Bishops and Presbyters, this power is common to them all. Without the word and Sacraments, the 3 Saints are not gathered, the 3 Church is not edified, 3 faith is not perfected, heaven is not opened ; wherefore in preaching the word and administering the Sacraments, the Scriptures know no difference betwixt Pastours and Teachers, Bishops and Presbyters. Had not our Saviour delivered both in one joint Commission to his Apostles, when he willed them to go and 4 teach all Nations, baptizing them ; Paul showeth that preaching the word, was of the twain the greater and worthier part of his Apostolic function. 5 Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel ; not that he might not or did not use both, but the latter was the chiefer. So John 6 preached the baptism of repentance ; not dividing the offer of the word from the confirmation of the Sacrament, but joining them both together as coherent and consequent the one to the other. For God doth not send his messengers to make empty promises ; but ratifieth the truth of his speech with the seals of his word, which are the Sacraments. And therefore he that hath charge from God to preach the one, hath also leave to perform the other. Whom God hath placed in his church, that by his mouth we should believe, by his hands also we may be baptized, as appeareth by Philip converting and baptizing, not only the 7 Eunuch, but the whole City of Samaria ; and for that cause S. Austen justly calleth as well Presbyters as Bishops, 8 Ministers of the word and Sacraments.1 Eph. 4. 2 1. Pet. 5. 2 Tit. 1. 2 Act. 20. 3 Eph. 4. 4 Mat. 28. 5 1. Cor. 1. 6 Luke 3. 7 Act. 8. 8 August. epist. 148.
A new distinction is lately devised, that Pastours in Saint Paul were such as had not only the word and Sacraments, but also the Church and charge of souls committed unto them ; and Teachers those that laboured in doctrine, but received no charge neither of Sacraments, nor souls. Indeed Ambrose taketh them for 1 Catechizers of Infants ; and at Alexandria there were 2 moderators of Schools resembling our Universities, for the training and instructing of such as in time were likely to profit the Church of God ; but these were not ecclesiastical functions in the Church ; they were profitable members of a commonwealth that so did, but no necessary workmen in the ministry. And though there were such for a season at Alexandria, yet all other Cities and Churches had not the like ; and they that governed those Schools and taught the Catechumens there, as Pantenus, Clemens and Origen, were Lay men, and never used at Alexandria to teach the people in the Church, as appeareth by Demetrius words, then Bishop of Alexandria, finding great fault with the Bishops of Jerusalem and Cesaria, for suffering Origen after he had been Catechist at Alexandria, to expound the Scriptures before the people in the Church. His words are these ; 3 It was never heard, nor ever suffered, that Lay men should teach in the Church in the presence of Bishops. With no face could the Bishop of Alexandria have disliked Origen’s fact, if it had been usual in his own Church : and the Bishops that wrote in defence of the matter, do not avouch it was a general or perpetual rule in the Church of Christ for a Catechizer to teach in the Church ; but allege three instances where they saw the like used, and confess they knew no more. Wherefore, unless their examples and reasons were stronger and surer, I prefer the judgement of Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret and others before this late conceit, who think the Apostle expressed one office by two names, to show what things belonged to the Pastoral charge. Austen, 4 Pastours and Doctours, whom you greatly desired I should distinguish, I think to be all one, as you do ; not that we should conceive some to be Pastours, others to be Doctours, but therefore he subjoined Doctours to Pastours, that Pastours might understand doctrine pertained to their office. 5 Every Pastour is a Doctour, saieth Jerome. 6 Pastours and Doctours ( saieth Chrysostom ) were they to whom the whole people were committed, and they were inferiour to those that went about preaching the Gospel, because dwelling in more quietness, they were employed only in one place. Paul 7 calleth them Pastours and Doctours ( saieth Theodoret ) which were deputed and fastened to a City or village. Oecumenius : by Pastours and Teachers 8 Paul meaneth Bishops to whom the Churches were committed.1 Ambros. in 4. ca. ad Ephes. 2 Euseb. li. 5. ca. 10 3 Euseb. li. 6. ca. 10 4 Aug. epist. 59. 5 Hier. in Ephes. ca. 4. 6 Chrysoft. in sermo. 11. in Ephes. ca. 4. 7 Theodoret in Ephes. ca. 4. 8 Oecumen. in Ephes. ca. 4.
But grant Pastours and Doctours were distinct offices in the Church, as you imagine, what gain you by it ? You may thereby prove an inequality of ecclesiastical functions, you prove nothing else. 1 Obey your Overseers, saith Paul, and be subject to them. They watch over your souls to give account ( for them. ) Obedience and subjection to the Pastour is due from the whole flock, and all degrees thereof which are no Pastours ; but Teachers, as you say, were no Pastors ; they were therefore inferiour to Pastors, and subject to their oversight. Now take your choice ; if Pastors were all one with Doctors, you have lost one of those offices which you affirm to be perpetual in the Church : if they were distinct from them, they were superiours unto them ; and so betwixt ministers of the word, ( for such were Teachers by Saint Paul’s rule ) you establish a difference of degrees.1 Hebr. 13.
The discipline and government of the Church, I mean the power of the keys, and imposing hands, are two other parts of Apostolic authority which must remain in the Church for ever. These keys are double ; the key of knowledge annexed to the word ; the key of power referred to the Sacraments. Some late writers by urging the one, abolish the other ; howbeit I see no sufficient reason to countervail the Scriptures and Fathers that defend and retain both. The key of knowledge must not be doubted of, our Saviour in express words nameth it. 1 Woe be to you interpreters of the law ; for ye have taken away the key of knowledge ; ye entered not in your selves, and those that were coming in, you forbade. The key of power standeth on these words of Christ to Peter. 2 I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. And likewise to all his Apostles, 3 Whatsoever ye bind in earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. And after his resurrection in like manner to them all, 4 Receive ye the holy Ghost ; whose sins soever ye remit, they are remitted unto them ; and whose sins ye retain, they are retained. And lest we should understand these places of the preaching of the Gospel, as some new writers do ; Saint Paul hath plain words, that cannot be wrested to that sense. Speaking of the incestuous Corinthian that was excommunicated and delivered unto Satan, he saieth ; 5 Sufficient for that man is this rebuking of many ; so that now contrarywise ye ought rather to forgive ( him ) and comfort ( him ) lest he be swallowed up with too much sorrow. To whom you forgive any thing, I also forgive : for if I forgave aught to any, I forgave it for your sakes in the sight of Christ. As Paul delivered this offender to Satan, and shut both the Church and heaven against him ; so now upon the detesting and forsaking of his sin, he restored him to the peace of the Church, communion of the Lord’s table, and hope of God’s kingdom, from which before he was excluded. And this Paul did not by preaching the word unto the penitent ; for as then he was absent from Corinth, but by forgiving him in the sight of Christ and his Church, as by his Apostolic power he might. Both these keys, the one of knowledge, the other of power, 6 Ambrose mentioneth in his 66. sermon, and likewise Origen in his 25. tractate upon Matthew, adding a third key, where he saieth ; 7 Blessed are they that open the kingdom of heaven, either by their word, or by their good work. For living well, and teaching rightly the word of truth, they open the kingdom of heaven before men, while they enter themselves, and provoke others to follow.1 Luke 11. 2 Math. 16. 3 Math. 18. 4 John 20. 5 2. Cor. 2. 6 Ambros. sermo. 66. 7 Orige. tract. 25. in Matth. ca. 23.
The meaning of these late writers it may be, is not wholly to cast away the key of power ; but only to draw the words of Christ spoken to Peter and the rest of his Apostles, rather to the preaching of the Gospel, than to excluding from the Sacraments : and yet to the Church or Presbytery, they reserve the power of the keys, that is, full authority to excommunicate notorious and rebellious sinners. These men foresee, that if the power of the keys be given to the Apostles and their successours ; then have lay Elders ( who do not succeed in the Apostles rooms and functions, ) nothing to do with the Apostles keys. Because this was enough, to mar the Lay Presbytery, therefore the Patrons thereof convey the words of Christ to another sense, and build the ground-work of excommunication upon the 18. chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel ; where the Church is named, and not the Apostles. But this device is both a prejudice to the Apostles, and a Preamble to the lay Presbytery ; which all the with one voice contradict, as I have 1 before at large declared.1 Supra ca. 9. fol. 115.
Omitting the Lay Burgesses of the Church, as having no interest in the Apostles keys, it resteth in this place to be considered, to whom those keys were committed ; whether equally to all Presbyters, or chiefly to Pastours and Bishops. The like must be done for imposition of hands ; whether that also pertained indifferently to all, or specially to Bishops. Before we make a full resolution to these questions ; we must search the time when Bishops first began ; and by whom they were first ordained, and authorized. In which inquisition we will begin with the report and opinion of the ancient Fathers ; and so descend to the positions and assertions of such as in our age impugn and gainsay the vocation and function of Bishops.
Epiphanius report is this ; 1 The Apostles could not suddenly settle all things. There was ( present ) need of Presbyters and Deacons ; for by those two the necessities of the Church might be supplied. Where there was none found worthy of the Bishopric, the place remained without a Bishop. But where there was need, and fit men found for the Episcopal function, Bishops were ordained. Everything was not perfect from the beginning : but in process of time, things were fitted for the furnishing of all occasions ; the Church in this wise receiving the perfection of her government.1 Epipha. contra Aerium. li. 3. hares. 75.
Ambrose somewhat differing from Epiphanius saieth ; 1 Paul calleth Timothy created a Presbyter by himself ( or with his own hands ) a Bishop, because the first Presbyters were called Bishops : so as ( the first ) departing, the next succeeded him. But for that the Presbyters which followed, began to be found unworthy to bear the chief regiment ; the manner was changed, a Council providing that not order but desert should make a Bishop appointed by the Judgement of many Priests, lest an unfit person should rashly usurp the place, and be an offence to many.1 Ambros in Ephes. ca 4.
Jerome’s opinion is evident by his words, which I repeated before, & in effect he affirmeth thus much ; 1 Before there were factions in religion, a Presbyter & a Bishop were both one ; & the care of the Church was equally divided amongst many : but when the Teachers and Baptizers began to draw disciples after them, it was decreed throughout the world, that to stop the rising of Schisms and divisions ; one of the Presbyters should be elected and exalted above the rest, to whom the whole care of the Church should pertain ; and he was called a Bishop or Overseer. And so by the custom of the Church rather than by the truth of the Lord’s disposition, Bishops are greater than Presbyters, with whom they should rule the Church in common. I have not altered or neglected any word in Jerome that is material.1 Hiero in ca. 1. epist. ad Tit. & in epistola ad Evagrium.
Some of our time whom for their learning and pains in the Church of God I otherwise reverence, though I follow not their judgement in this point, 1 collect out of Ambrose and Jerome, that in the Apostles times Bishops did not differ from Presbyters : only there was in every place a President of the Presbytery, who called them together, and proposed things needful to be consulted of ; and this kind of Priority went round to all the Presbyters, every man holding it by course for a season, ( which some think was a week ) even as the Priests of the law had their weekly courses to serve in the Temple. This kind of moderating the Presbyteries by course for a week or a month, they take to be Apostolic ; all other sorts of regiment used after in the Church, they suppose to be men’s inventions, and therefore they call the one form of government divine, the other human.1 In responsione ad tractationem de gradibus ministrorum Evangelii ab Hadriano Saravia editam.
I could wish that in men of great gifts, affection and prejudice did not often over-rule learning and judgement ; but the greatest men in Christ’s Church ( excepting always the Apostles ) have inclined, some to private opinions, some to known errours : and therefore later writers must think it no dishonour to have their reasons weighed before they be received. For my understanding I would gladly learn, where I shall read, that Bishops in the Apostles times governed by weeks or years ; & that this kind of Priority went by course in every place to all the Presbyters. I see it alleged out of Ambrose, but I find no such thing affirmed by Ambrose. He saith, 1 the first ( that is, the chiefest or eldest ) Presbyters were called Bishops, so as he departing, or leaving the place the next succeeded him. He doth not say, the first departed at the week’s or year’s end ; nor the next succeeded, and so round every man in his course ; but when the first departed or left his place, ( as by death, deprivation, desertion, translation, persecution, continual sickness or any other occasion ) they did not choose another to succeed him, but the next in order and standing to him that departed, took his place. By this you may imagine that the Apostles at the first in every place where they came, took care to order the Presbyteries in such sort, that every man might be placed according to the measure of the gifts and graces, which he had received of the holy Ghost, and withal appointed the eldest or first to moderate their meetings until further order should be taken : and when the place was void by death or otherwise, the next to succeed him without any other or further consent or election of the people or Presbytery. But what can be more against Ambrose’s words and sense, than that a weekly or monthly government went round about to all the Presbyters by course, since he affirmeth, that not all, but only the first Presbyters were Bishops ? If all were Bishops by course, how could only the first have that place ? if all were first, who was second or third ? By primi Presbyteri, the first Presbyters, he doth not mean all the Presbyters that were in the first age of the Church under the Apostles ; for then they should all be Bishops, and none Presbyters, which is a contradiction in the very words ; but by primus and sequens, the first and the next, he meant those that were so placed in order by the Apostles.1 Ambros. in Ephes. ca. 4.
Let Ambrose himself tell you so much. 1 He is a Bishop, which is first amongst the Presbyters, so that every Bishop is a Presbyter, but every Presbyter is not a Bishop. ( For example ) Paul signifieth that he made Timothy a Presbyter, but because he had none other before him, he was a Bishop. Whereupon Paul showeth him how he should ordain a Bishop : for it was neither meet, nor lawful, that the inferiour should ordain the greater, or superiour. No man can give that which he hath not received. Every Presbyter was not a Bishop, saieth Ambrose, ergo, that office went not round by course along all the Presbyters. Again, Timothy was therefore a Bishop, because he had none other before him ; but if they went round by order, Timothy had many weeks another above him, and before him, and then Timothy was no Bishop, but when his course came. Thirdly, if every Presbyter were a Bishop in his turn ; how fond a reason were this, which Ambrose maketh, that Timothy must be a Bishop before he could impose hands to ordain a Bishop ; since it is not lawful for an inferiour to ordain his superiour, and no man could give that which he had not received ? For if that office went by order, every man received Episcopal power to impose hands in his course, and consequently might give it. Wherefore it is no part of Ambrose’s meaning or saying, that the Episcopal honour and dignity was in the Apostles times imparted to all the Presbyters of every Church in their turns ; each of them enjoying it a week or a year ; it is a dream of yours, and so far from all proof and likelihood, that for your learning and credit’s sake you should not father it on Ambrose. What Ambrose proveth for us against the main grounds of your new Discipline, in place where, we will not forget.1 Ambros. in 1. epist. ad Timoth. ca. 3.
To return to the ancient Fathers, and sincerely to view their reports without shortening or lengthening them for either side, Epiphanius speech is in part clear, in part obscure. I observe three points in him that appear to be true, and accord with the judgement of the rest of the Fathers. The first is, the Apostles could not at the new planting of the Churches settle and dispose all things in such perfection, as in time they did. So saieth Ambrose, 1 After that Churches were established in all places ; and offices ( distinguished or ) digested, they took another order than at beginning. And why ? The first regard the Apostles had, was to gain unbelievers to Christ ; the second, to govern such as were gained. And these two respects might best be performed by two contrary courses. To increase the Church, the more workmen, the better. For when the Harvest is great, if 2 the Labourers be few, the rooms cannot be filled. To guide the Church, the fewer, the better ; except it be with counsel to advise. For diverse men have divers minds, and divers meanings, and in a multitude of Governours, emulation and dissention are no rare springs. Wherefore no marvel though the Apostles took besides themselves as many helpers as they could to convert the world unto Christ ; and yet took not unto themselves as many Rulers as they could in every place to govern the believers. By order of nature men must be gotten together, before they need be governed ; and so in the building of the Church the number of Preachers at the first was more requisite than the choice of Governours. And for that cause Epiphanius second position is very true, That Presbyters and Deacons ( the one to labour in the word and dispence the Sacraments, the other to relieve the poor and attend to divine Service ) were everywhere appointed by the Apostles. These were sufficient to begin the Churches, and these were fittest to increase the Church. And therefore in many places, the Apostles left none other but these. If you ask, who then governed the Churches in those beginnings, I answer, the flock was both augmented and directed by the Presbyters that laboured in the word. The chief government to impose hands and deliver unto Satan rested yet in the Apostles, who often 3 visited the Churches which they planted, and ordained Presbyters ( as they passed ) to supply the wants of every Church. The third point in Epiphanius report is this ; that although it be not extant in the Apostles writings, that in every place where they came at first they left Bishops ; yet the Scriptures do witness that Paul furnished some places with Bishops, as Ephesus and Crete with Timothy and Titus. Thus far I see not what you can refel in Epiphanius.1 Ambros. in Ephes. ca. 4. 2 Luc. 10. 3 Act. 15. & 14.
Perchance you will deride Epiphanius simplicity, that could not discern betwixt an Evangelist and a Bishop ; for ( as you maintain ) Timothy and Titus were Evangelists and not Bishops, and had an extraordinary and no ordinary calling. You cannot charge Epiphanius with ignorance in this behalf, but you must do the like to the eldest and best learned Fathers of the Primitive Church, namely, Eusebius, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Oecumenius, Primasius and others ; which affirm as Epiphanius doth, that Timothy was a Bishop ordained by S. Paul. But thereof anon ; as also whether an Evangelist might be a Bishop or no ; which conclusions of yours, though they be most feeble and unsure, yet they be lately taken up for Oracles.
That which may be doubted in Epiphanius, is this. The cause why Bishops wanted in some places was, saith he, the lack of fit men to bear the office. It may be some will think it strange, that amongst so many Prophets, Pastours and Teachers as were in most of those Churches which Paul planted, not a fit man could be found for the Episcopal function, and yet afterward meet men were found for all the Churches in the world : but as that which Epiphanius saith, might be some cause of wanting Bishops at the first ; so, if I be not deceived, there were other causes that moved the Apostles not straight ways to place Bishops in every Church where they preached, which I will specify, when the testimonies of Ambrose and Jerome be throughly perused.
Ambrose at first sight seemeth somewhat to dissent from Epiphanius, in that he thinketh the Churches had both Presbyters and Bishops left them by the Apostles ; and the Presbyters were placed in an order, according to the deserts and worthiness of each man, by the Apostles and others that founded the Churches ; and this rule delivered, that as the first and chiefest Presbyter ( who was Bishop in name, and superiour in calling to the rest ) failed, so the next should succeed in his room, and enjoy the Episcopal chair and power after his departure. And when some Presbyters did not answer the expectation which was had of them, but scandalized the Church, that course of standing in order to succeed was changed, and Bishops were chosen by the judgement and liking of many Priests, to cut off unworthy and offensive men from the place. I could admit this report of Ambrose, but that he expresseth not when, and by whom this change began, he saieth, (
Prospiciente Concilio, &c., ) A Council foreseeing or providing, that not order, but merit should create a Bishop ; but what Council ? If he meant a Council of the Apostles, which is not expressed, but may well be intended ; ( for the words stand indifferent to any Council, ) no testimony can be weightier for Bishops than this of Ambrose ; which is brought against them. If he meant others after the Apostles deaths, what authority had they to change the Apostolic government ; or by their decree to bind the whole world ? But this I reserve till Jerome’s witness be repeated and examined.
Jerome in his words 1 before cited avoucheth three special things. First, that til dissentions sprang in the Church, Bishops and Presbyters were all one, and the Churches were governed by the common advice of Presbyters, amongst ( whom ) the care of the Church was equally divided. Next, that to root out schisms rising very fast through the Preachers and Presbyters factions, by a decree throughout the whole world, one of the Presbyters was chosen in every Church, and set over the rest, and to him the whole care of the Church did ever after appertain. Thirdly, that this subjection of the Presbyters under the Bishop, and majority of Bishops above Presbyters grew rather by the custom of the Church, than by the truth of the Lord’s disposition, for they should rule the Church in common.1 pag. 215.
These words of Jerome may be either very true according to the time that they be referred unto, or very false. If you so construe Jerome, that all the while the Apostles lived, Bishops were all one with Presbyters, and had no more charge nor power in the Church than Presbyters ; you make Jerome contradict the Scriptures, himself, and the whole array of all the ancient Fathers and Apostolic Churches, that ever were since Christ’s time ; for all these affirm and prove the contrary. But if you so expound Jerome that the Apostles for a time suffered the Presbyters to have equal power and care in guiding the Church ( themselves always sitting at the stern, and holding the helve while they were present in those parts of the world ) till by the factions and divisions of so many governors the Churches were almost rent in pieces ; and thereupon the Apostles forced, did set another order in the Church than was at first, and with the good liking of all the Churches, ( either troubled with contentions, or justly fearing the like events in time to come ) did commit each place to one Pastour, leaving the rest to consult and advise with him for the health and peace of the people, and by this example taught the whole Church what perpetual rule to observe after their deaths ; Jerome saieth as much as I can, or do desire. I come now to the quick ; let the Christian Reader mark this issue well in God’s name, and what side bringeth soundest and surest proofs, there let the verdict go.
Jerome proveth by many Scriptures, that a Presbyter and Bishop were names indifferent, and often used to the same persons. Paul calling for the Presbyters of Ephesus said unto them ; 1 Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the holy Ghost hath set you
ἐπισκόπους Overseers or Bishops to feed the Church of God. Inscribing his Epistle to the Philippians, he saieth, 2 To all the Saints which are at Philippi with the Bishops and Deacons. And so to Titus, 3 I left thee in Crete to ordain Presbyters in every City, if any be unreprovable for a Bishop must be unreprovable. Peter likewise writing to the Jews dispersed, saieth, 4 The Presbyters which are amongst you I beseech, which am also a Presbyter, feed the flock of God committed to you,
ἐπισκοποῦντες, overseeing it, not constrainedly, but willingly.
All the Presbyters that fed the flock are in these places called Bishops : I grant it fully ; the words are clear. What hence conclude you ? ergo, the offices were then all one ? Nay, ergo, the names then were common. Otherwise, how think you by this argument ? Peter calleth himself 1
συμπρεσβύτερος, a fellow Presbyter with the rest ; are therefore the Apostleship and the Presbytership both one office ? Of Judas Peter saieth in the Acts 2
τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν αὐτοῦ, his Bishopric let another take. Will you grant, that an Apostle doth not differ from a Bishop ? Admit you the one, and I will receive the other. Names may be common, though offices be distinct.
[ There were then at Ephesus, and amongst the dispersed Jews no Bishops, but such as were Presbyters ; and they many, not one. ] Distinguish the times, and the Scriptures will agree. There was a time, ( as Jerome telleth you ) when the Churches were governed by the common advice of the Presbyters. In this time spoke Paul to the Presbyters of Ephesus, in this time wrote Peter to the Presbyters amongst the Jews. After this the factions of the Teachers caused the Apostles to establish another kind of government, and to commit the chief care of each Church, which they had planted, to some chosen person that should oversee the flock as Pastour of the place, the rest being his helpers to disperse the word, and advisers to govern the Church. [ If you prove that, you say somewhat to the matter. ] If I prove it not better than you do your Lay Elders, I am content to renounce the one, as I do the other. [ Will you prove it by the Scripture? ] I will so prove it, as you shall not refuse it, unless you reject both the Book and Church of God. [ What will you prove? ] That the Apostles in their lifetime did institute one Pastour to take the chief care of one Church ; and consequently the change which Jerome speaketh of, from the common and equal regiment of Presbyters, to the particular and preeminent moderation of the Churches in each place by Bishops, was not made after the Apostles were dead, but while they lived ; and then of force by their decree. For during their times none might interpose themselves to change and alter the form of the Church Discipline settled by them, without their leave and allowance.
The reasons why the Apostles did not at the first preaching of the Gospel commit the Churches to the regiment of Bishops, I find were these three. First ; they reserved the chief power of imposing hands, and punishing notorious offenders to themselves, whom Christ made bishops & overseers of his Church. For though to feed, lead, and attend the flock, they took the Presbyters to be their helpers ; yet the weightiest matters of the church, as giving the graces of God’s spirit, and delivering unto Satan, they retained in their own hands, so long as they were in those places or parts of the world. The second is that which Epiphanius noted, that although there were many endued with excellent gifts to preach the word, yet the Apostles would trust none with the chief charge of the Churches, till they had fully seen, and perfectly tried, as well the soundness of their minds, as greatness of their gifts. Thirdly, lest they should seem to seek the advancing of their followers, more than the converting of unbelievers ; they suffered the Churches to take a trial what equality of many Governours would do ; and when the fruits thereof proved to be dissention and confusion, the Apostles were forced to commit the Churches at their departures to certain tried & approved men to be chief Pastours of the several places ; and the Churches were all as willing to receive them, finding by experience what continual schisms and heresies grew by the perverseness of Teachers, and could not be repressed by the confused government of the Presbyters, which were many in number, and equal in power.
[ None of these things are expressed in the Scriptures. ] If the fathers alone did witness them, say we not much more for Bishops, than you do for Lay Elders ? But you shall see the grounds of their reports testified even in the Scriptures. That the Apostles at the first planting of the Churches, kept to themselves the power of imposing hands and delivering unto Satan, which the Fathers call Episcopal power, is no news in the Scriptures ; they could not lose that, unless they lost their Apostleship withal : you must show by the Scriptures where they committed this power to the Presbyters of every place ; or else our assertion standeth good that they retained it to themselves. For of their having it, there is no doubt ; of their committing it to the Presbyters of every Church, there is no proof. And therefore the Fathers do utterly deny, that the Apostles delivered that power to any but to Bishops. Their proofs be stronger than you take them for, howsoever you will shift them.
There were Presbyters at Ephesus, besides Timothy, and in Crete, besides Titus ; and yet Paul left the one at Ephesus to impose hands, and the other in Crete to ordain Presbyters in every City. If without them the Presbyters of either place might have done it ; superfluous was both Paul’s charge they should do it, and direction how they should do it. But his committing that power and care to them, proveth in the judgement of the ancient Fathers, that the Presbyters without them could not do it. Evangelists you say they were ; and not Bishops. Admit they were. Then as yet neither Ephesus, nor Crete had any that might impose hands, and yet had they Presbyters ; And consequently this power to impose hands was at that time reserved from the Presbyters to the Apostles and their deputies.
[ Saint Paul saieth most apparently the Presbytery might impose hands. For Timothy received from them imposition of hands. ] I have told you already, that take the word how you will, you can prove no such thing thence. If it signify there the degree of a Presbyter which Timothy then received, as Jerome expoundeth the place ; it commeth nothing near your purpose. If you take it for the assembly then gathered, when Timothy was ordained, Chrysostom telleth you, they were more than Presbyters ; for otherwise they could not lay hands on Timothy to make him a Bishop. Chrysostom, you think, erred in not expounding the place as you do. Then give Saint Paul leave to tell you that he was present in the Presbytery, when Timothy was ordained, and that he imposed hands on Timothy. But this I have handled before, to which I refer you ; I only now put you in mind, that place will bear no such conclusion.
And as the Apostles reserved imposition of hands from the Presbyters to themselves, so did they keep the delivering of offendours unto Satan in their own power. 1 If any obey not our sayings, note him by a letter, saith Paul, and keep no company with him. To what end should they note him by a letter unto Paul, unless Paul had reserved the punishing of such offendours unto himself ? 2 Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in the spirit of meekness ? 3 If I come again, I will not spare such, as have heretofore sinned, and not repented. I trust this be plain enough to prove, that the Apostles kept the punishing of sins to themselves, and referred them not over to the Presbyters.1 2. Thess. 3. 2 1. Corinth. 4 3 2. Cor. 12. & 13.
[ The Apostles having of this power doth not exclude the Presbyters from having the same ; for at Corinth Paul not only willeth the Church to excommunicate that incestuous sinner, but rebuketh them for not doing it before he wrote. ] Paul doth not reprove them for not 1 delivering that sinner unto Satan, but for not sorrowing that he might have been put from among them. Had they written of this notorious offence when they wrote of other things to the Apostle, that he might have considered of the offendours punishement ; they had done their duties. They could maintain factions, and swell one against another through pride of their gifts ; but they did not sorrow, to see so grievous a crime committed and continued in the eyes both of believers and Infidels, nor so much as signify the same by their letters, as desiring to have such a one excluded from their Christian fellowship. This the Apostle chargeth them with ; he goeth no further. They should have 2 noted him by a letter unto Paul, and kept no company with him, til the Apostle had decreed what to do with him.1 1. Corinth. 5 1 2. Thess. 3.
[ All this doeth you no good ; for the Apostles neither were, nor could be Bishops. ] I am sure all the Fathers with one mouth affirm the Apostles both might be and were Bishops. Cyprian, 1 (
Apostolos, id est, episcopos, Dominus elegit, ) the Lord himself chose the Apostles, that is, the bishops. 2 (
Apostoli episcopi sunt, ) the Apostles are bishops, saieth Ambrose. 3 (
fuerunt primi Petrus & Paulus Apostoli ijdem ac Episcopi, ) at Rome the first were Peter and Paul, both Apostles and Bishops, saieth Epiphanius. 4 James, saieth Chrysostom, had the office of a Bishop at Jerusalem. And so Eusebius, 5 James, was the first, that after the ascention of our Saviour had the Episcopal seat at Jerusalem. Jerome himself that is thought to speak much against the state of Bishops, saith, 6 Peter after the Bishopric of Antioch held the Sacerdotal chair at Rome. And again, 7 James called the Lord’s brother after the Lord’s passion was straight ordained Bishop of Jerusalem by the Apostles. Theodoret, Paul 8 showeth plainly, that Epaphroditus had the Episcopal function committed to him, by calling him an Apostle.
What need we more ? I remembered you before, Peter himself calleth the Apostleship, 9 a Bishopship. And why not ? If
ἐπισκοπεῖν be to oversee the Lord’s flock ; who better deserved that name than the Apostles ?
[ They were more than Bishops. ] So were they more than Presbyters, and yet Saint Peter could tell how to speak, when he called himself
συμπρεσβύτερον, a Presbyter, as well as others. [ Bishops are overseers but of one place, Apostles of many. ] Bishops were fastened to one place, not by the force of their name, but by the order of the holy Ghost, who sent Apostles to oversee many places, and settled Pastours to oversee one : but he that is overseer of twenty Cities, is overseer of every one. And therefore the Apostles were Bishops, and more than Bishops, even as John was 1 more than a Prophet, and yet 2 a Prophet. [ Confound you their offices ? ] I keep them distinct, in that I say, every Apostle was a Prophet, a Bishop, and a Presbyter ; but not every Presbyter, Bishop, or Prophet, was an Apostle. They were all 3 the Ministers of Christ, feeders of his flock, and stewards of his mysteries ; but the Apostles in a greater measure of grace, higher manner of calling, and mightier force of God’s Spirit than the rest. And whatsoever becometh of the names, it cannot be denied, but the Apostles had that power of imposing hands, and delivering unto Satan, which they after imparted unto Bishops. And therefore while they remained in or near the places, where they planted Churches, there was no such need of Bishops ; the Apostles always supplying the wants of those Churches with their presence, Letters or Messengers, as the cause required. But when they were finally to forego those parts, then began they to provide for the necessity and security of the Churches, and left such fit men as they had, with Episcopal power, as their substitutes to guide the Churches which they had founded.
The second cause, why Bishops were not everywhere trusted with the Churches at the first erecting thereof, is that which Epiphanius remembereth, and Paul toucheth in many places. 1 I trust to send Timotheus shortly unto you. I have no man like minded, who will faithfully care for your matters. For all seek their own, and not that which is Jesus Christ’s. And to Timothy ; 2 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia, be turned from me. 3 At my first answering no man assisted me, but all forsook me. Demas hath forsaken me and embraced this present world. Wherefore Epiphanius surmise, that the scarcity of tried and approved men, was some cause why every place was not furnished at the first with a Bishop ; is neither unlikely nor unpertaining to the purpose.1 Philip. 2. 2 2. Timoth. 1. 3 Timoth. 4.
The third reason I take to be this ; that as Presbyters to labour in the word and augment the Church were presently needful, the harvest being no less than the whole world ; and Bishops to moderate the number of Teachers, and to oversee as well the feeders as the flock were not so requisite while the Apostles ( who took care of those things themselves ) preached in or near the places ; so the wisdom of God would not impose that form of government on the Church, but after long trial and good experience, what need the Churches should have of it. This course he observed with the people of Israel, not straightway to associate the seventy Elders unto Moses ; but to let them alone until Moses was wearied with the burden, and the multitude grieved for want of dispatch, and Jethro seeing the Judge afflicted with pains and the people discontented with delays, advised another way ; which the whole assembly liked, God confirmed, and Moses executed. In like manner Christ suffered his Church to try, while his Apostles yet lived, what equality and plenty of Governours would work in every place ; and when it fell out in proof, upon the Apostles absence, that so many leaders, so many followers, so many Rulers, so many factions put every Church in sunder ; the Apostles were forced ( the world, as Jerome saith decreeing it, that is, the faithful throughout the world being therewith contented and thereof desirous ) to commit their places and Churches not to Presbyters in common and equal authority, but to their Disciples and followers ( whom afterward they called Bishops ) in a superiority, leaving unto them as unto their successors the chiefest honor and power of imposing hands and using the keys, and resting specially on their care and pains to oversee both Teachers and believers, though the Presbyters were not excluded from helping and assisting them to feed and guide the flock of Christ.
[ This you say : but Jerome saith, It was not the Lord’s disposition by his Apostles, but rather a decree and custom of the Church that first made Bishops to differ from Presbyters. ] Jerome saith it was decreed throughout the world, to change the equality of Presbyters into the superiority of Bishops : by whom it was so decreed, he doth not mention in this place ; but if I prove, as well by the Scriptures, as by Jerome himself, and the rest of the Fathers, that this change began in the Apostles times, and was both seen and approved by them ; I evince it to be an Apostolic ordinance. [ Then must it also be divine, which Jerome denieth. ] What Jerome meaneth by the truth of the Lord’s ordinance, I will after examine ; I must prove in order, else I shall but confound both myself and the Reader. In the meantime I make this reason out of Jerome. When the schisms of Presbyters began dangerously to tear the Churches in pieces, then were the Churches committed to the chief and preeminent charge of one ; but those schisms and factions troubled all the Churches even in the Apostles times ; under them therefore began the change of government, which Jerome speaketh of.
[ At Corinth indeed there were contentions, who were baptized of the greatest men, which Jerome doth exemplify ; but the factions must be more general and deadly that should cause an alteration of government throughout the world. ] So there were, even in the Apostles times. To those of Corinth he saith, 1 When you come together in the Church I hear there are dissentions amongst you, and I believe it in part. For there must be heresies even among you, that they which are approved amongst you might be known. And when he saith, there must be heresies amongst you to manifest the good from the bad, he meaneth not only at Corinth, but everywhere ; which came to pass accordingly. To the Romans he saith ; 2 Mark them diligently, which cause divisions and offences contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. Amongst the Galatians were 3 some that intended to pervert the Gospel of Christ, and to carry them into another doctrine, bewitching them that they should not obey the truth. To the Philippians ; 4 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workmen. Many walk, ( of whom I told you often, and tell you now weeping ) that are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is damnation, whose God is their belly, and glory to their shame, which mind earthly things. With the Colossians were some that 5 burdened the Churches with traditions, even with the commandements and doctrines of men, and holding not the head advanced themselves in those things which they never saw, and rashly puffed up with fleshly minds ( beguiled the simple ) with a show of humbleness and worshipping of Angels. At Thessalonica, the resurrection of the dead was impugned ; and some 6 troubled the people with visions, with feigned messages, and forged letters in the Apostles name, 7 as if the day of Christ were at hand. It came to pass in every place which Paul foretold the Presbyters of Ephesus. 8 This I know ( saith he ) that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in amongst you, not sparing the flock. Yea of your own selves shall rise men speaking perverse things to draw Disciples after them. Neither were the Gentiles only subject to this danger, but the Jews also as Peter forewarned them. 9 There shall be false teachers amongst you, which privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that hath bought them, & many shall follow their damnable ways ; & through covetousness with feigned words shall they make merchandise of you. And so John, 10 even now there are many Antichrists. 11 Many false prophets and 12 deceivers are gone out into the world.1 1. Corint. 11. 2 Rom. 16. 3 Galat. 1. & 3. 4 Philipp. 3. 5 Coloss. 2. 6 1. Thess. 4. 7 2. Thess. 2. 8 Acts 20. 9 2. Pet. 2. 10 1. Joh. 2. & 11 4. 12 epist. Joh. 2.
To prevent these deceivers, and repress these perverse Teachers ; Paul was forced, while he lived & laboured in other places, to send special substitutes to the Churches most endangered ; and by their pains & oversight to cure the sores & heal the wounds, which these pestilent and unquiet spirits had made. So at Ephesus, when the teachers and doctors began to 1 affirm they knew not what, even 2 profane and doting fables, 3 whose word did fret as a canker, and 4 crept into houses leading captive simple women laden with sins, and led with divers lusts ; and others 5 having itching ears gat them teachers after their own lusts, and turned their ears from the truth to fables. Paul sent Timothy thither to 6 stay these profane and vain babblings, to 7 command that they taught no strange doctrine, to 8 impose hands on such as were fit, to 9 receive accusations against sinful and ungodly Presbyters, and to 10 rebuke them openly according to their deserts, to 11 reject young and wanton widows, and to see true 12 Labourers in the word honored and cherished, and finally to oversee the whole house of God and every part thereof as well Teachers and Presbyters, as Deacons, widows and hearers. And not only instructed him how he should 13 behave himself as a Governour in the Church, but 14 charged him before the living God and his elect Angels, that he observed those things without respecting persons, or any inclining to parts. Likewise in Crete, when 15 many vain talkers and deceivers of minds, 16 subverted whole houses, and loaded the Church with 17 Jewish fables and commandements of men ; Paul left Titus there to 18 redress things amiss, to 19 stop their mouths that taught things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake, to 20 stay foolish questions and contentions about the Law, 21 to reject heretics after one or two admonitions, and 22 sharply to rebuke with all authority, not suffering any man to despise him ; as also to 23 ordain good and religious Presbyters and Bishops in every City, that should be able to exhort with wholesome doctrine, and improve gainsayers. And here first did Paul by writing express, that he placed substitutes where need was, with Episcopal power and honour to guide and rule the Church of God.1 1. Tim. 1. 2 1. Tim. 4. 3 2. Tim. 2. 4 2. Tim. 3. 5 2. Tim. 4. 6 2. Tim. 2. 7 1. Tim. 1. 8 1. Tim. 5. 9 1. Tim. 5. 10 1. Tim. 5. 11 1. Tim. 5. 12 Verse 17. 13 1. Tim. 3. 14 1. Tim. 5. 15 Tit. 1. ver. 10. 16 Verse 11. 17 Verse 14. 18 Verse 5. 19 Verse 11. 20 Tit. 3. ver. 9. 21 Verse 10. 22 Tit. 2. ver. 15. 23 Tit. 1. ver. 5.
[ These examples make nothing to your purpose. For first they did none of these things, but with the advice and consent of the Presbytery ; which Bishops do not. Next, they were Evangelists and no Bishops, and in that respect might have this special deputation from the Apostle. ] It may be your learning will serve you to say, that Paul left both these to rule the Church in Crete and at Ephesus for a week, and in their order, as the rest of the Presbyters did ; but such tests if you dare adventure them will crack both your cause and your credit. Paul belike prayed Timothy to stay at Ephesus to call the Presbytery together and to ask voices, and to do just what pleased the rest to decree ; but if you elude and frustrate the words of the Apostle with such additions, not only besides, but against the Text, you can deceive none, save such as will not believe Saint Paul himself if he should speak against the Lay Presbytery. For our parts we take the words as they stand, and so did the before us ; being persuaded that Paul had enough wit to discern to whom he should write for the performance of these things, and not to mistake Timothy, for the Presbytery. If Timothy had nothing else to do, but to consult what pleased the Presbyters to determine in every of these points ; how childish an oversight was it for Paul to skip the whole bench of them ; and to charge and adjure him to see these precepts inviolably kept without sparing or fearing any man ?
For thus you must expound, or rather imprison and fetter every word that Paul speaketh in those three Epistles. Command with all authority ; receive not an accusation against a Presbyter, but under two or three witnesses ; rebuke them that sin ; reject heretics after two warnings ; refuse younger widows ; stay vain contentions and unprofitable questions, ordain Elders in every City ; impose hands hastily on no man ; that is as you interpret, call the Presbytery together, and ask them whether they be contented it shall be so or no. And so, I adjure and charge thee before God and Christ, and the elect Angels, that thou observe these precepts inviolable and unblameable, that is, observe them if the Presbytery will consent and agree unto the, else not. But I think you dare not stand to these mockeries of the Scriptures ; and therefore you will rather fly to the second part of your answer, that they were authorized to do these things, as Evangelists, and not as Bishops.
[ We expressed so much, that they were Evangelists, and no Bishops. ] Evangelists you should say and Bishops. For when they left following the Apostles and were affixed to certain places with this power and authority which I have mentioned, what else could they be but Bishops ? They assisted the Apostles present, and supplied their absence, and did continue the Churches in that state in which the Apostles left them. Now if the Apostles in respect of this power and care, were Bishops when they stayed in any place ; much more the Evangelists. If the same fidelity and authority be still needful, and therefore perpetual in the Church of God ; they did these things not by their Evangelistical calling, which is long since ceased, but by their , which yet doth and must remain. For if this power and preeminence descended from them to their successours ; it is evident this commission and charge was Episcopal, since no part of their Evangelship was derived to their after-comers.
[ We cannot endure to have them called or counted Bishops. ] Indeed if succession of Episcopal power came from the Apostles to them, and so to their successours ; we shall soon conclude that Bishops came from the Apostles, and therefore you do wisely to resist it : but by your patience you must endure it, the best Histories and Writers of the Primitive Church, do make them Bishops, and likewise Paul’s precepts to them, the very patterns of Episcopal charge and duty. 1 Timothy, saieth Eusebius,
ἱστορεῖται, is by the histories reported to be the first that took the bishopric of Ephesus, as Titus also did of the churches in Crete. Jerome, ( whose words you strongly press to prove there were no Bishops in the Apostles times, but such as were equal with Presbyters and not superiours unto them; ) saieth, 2 Timothy was ordained Bishop of Ephesus by blessed Paul ; and Titus Bishop of Crete preached the Gospel there, and in the Islands round about. Ambrose, Paul 3 by his epistle instructeth Timothy, now created a Bishop, how he ought to order the Church. And so of the other, 4 The Apostle had consecrated Titus to be a Bishop, and therefore he warneth him to be careful in ecclesiastical ordination. Chrysostom, 5 Paul saith in his epistle to Timothy, Fulfill thy ministry, when he was now a Bishop. For that Timothy was a Bishop, Paul declareth by his writing thus unto him, Lay hands hastily on no man. And again, which was given thee by the imposition of hands of the Presbytery, for by no means Presbyters could ordain a Bishop. And showing how Evangelists might become Bishops, he saith, 6 Why doth Paul write only to Timothy and Titus, whereas Silas and Luke were ( also his Disciples and ) endued with marvelous virtues ? Because he had now delivered to them the government and charge of the Church ; the others as yet he did carry about with him. Epiphanius, 7 the divine speech of the Apostle teacheth who is a Bishop, and who a Presbyter ; in saying to Timothy a Bishop, Rebuke not a Presbyter, but exhort him as a father, How could a Bishop rebuke a Presbyter, if he had no power over a Presbyter ? as also, Receive not an accusation against a Presbyter, but under two or three witnesses. Theodoret, 8 Titus was a notable Disciple of Paul, & ordained by Paul Bishop of Crete, and authorized to make the Bishops that were under him.
Vincentius Lirinensis writing upon some words of Paul to Timothy saith, 1 O Timothy, ( that is ) O Priest, O Teacher, if the divine grace hath made thee meet for wit, exercise and learning, be thou Beseleel, ( that is, a most skillful workman ) of the spiritual Temple. Augustine instructing all Pastours by Paul’s words to Titus, addeth, 2 Was it said in vain to the servant of God now eminent amongst the members of the chief Pastour, Show thy self an example of good works to all ? Gregory, 3 Paul admonisheth his scholler Timothy now Prelate of a flock, saying, Attend to reading til I come. Primasius, 4 Timothy had the grace of prophecy, , together with the order of a Bishop. And ( that grace was ) 5 the blessing which Timothy at the time of his making Bishop received by the imposition of Paul’s hands. Oecumenius interlacing the words of Paul to Timothy, saieth, Neglect not the gift which is in thee, 6 That is, either Doctrine, or the office of a Bishop. For it was the grace of God, that being young, he deserved to be made a Pastour. [ Which was given thee by prophecy. ] For by the commandement of the holy Ghost Bishops were made, and not at all adventure. [ With imposition of hands of the Presbytery. ] By Presbyters he meaneth Bishops : for Presbyters did not ordain him, being a Bishop. Yea, which of all the ancient Fathers doth not with Tertullian confess that the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus 7 were made concerning the ecclesiastical state ? Or doth not with Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Oecumenius apply the words & precepts of the Apostle written to them as 8 spoken to all Bishops ? You say Evangelists could be no Bishops ; ye whole Church of Christ with one resolution said they were bishops ; & whatsoever Paul speaketh to them pertaineth to all Bishops and Pastors : and of all others Jerome’s confession is most clear in that behalf. How then could Jerome doubt but the vocation and function of Bishops was an Apostolic ordinance, and consequently confirmed and allowed by the wisdom of God’s spirit in his Apostles ?1 Vincentius contra haereses. 2 August. de pastoribus. ca. 4. 3 Gregor. in Pastoral. part. 2. ca. 11. 4 Primas. ad Timotheum. ca. 4. 5 & 2. ca. 1. 6 Oecumenius. ca 9. in 1. ad Timoth. 4. 7 Tertul. contra Marcionem. li. 5. 8 Chrysost. homil. 10. in 1. ad Timoth. 8 Ambros. in 6. ca. 1. ad Timoth. 8 Oecumenius in ad Timoth. ca. 5.
Saint John in his Revelation will assure you, that the Son of god willed him to write to the 1 seven stars and Angels of the seven Churches of Asia, that is, to the seven Pastours and Bishops of those seven places. Whereby it is evident, that not only the Apostles were living, when one superiour governed the Churches ; but the Lord himself with his own voice confirmed that kind of regiment. I do not fear lest with Origen, you will wrest the place to the Angels in heaven, & say that 2 in every Church there were two Bishops, one visible another invisible ; S. Augustine hath learnedly quenched that error. 3 If ( the Lord ) would have had those words understood of the Angels of the higher heavens, and not of the Rulers of the Church, he would not have afterward added, But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love : remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent. This cannot be spoken of the heavenly Angels, who always retain their love, whence they that fell are the Devil and his Angels. Therefore by the divine voice, under the name of an Angel, the Ruler ( or overseer ) of the Church is praised. And again, 4 The Angels of the Churches ( in the Apocalypse ) ought not to be understood to be any but the Bishops or Rulers of the Churches. If John in his time saw those seven Churches governed by seven Pastours or Bishops ; then was the common and equal government of Presbyters before that time changed. If Christ called them and of the Churches, they were no human invention after the Apostles were dead and buried.1 Reve. 1. 2. & 3. 2 Orig. homil. 13. in Lucam. 3 August. epist. 162. 4 Idem homil. 2. in Apocal.
[ You see Jerome saieth, the regiment of Bishops came not into the Church by the truth of the Lord’s disposition. ] You do not allege Jerome, because you admit or regard what he saith ; you only snatch at some words in him, which seem to serve your humours ; otherwise, you receive no part of his report. In the place which you bring against Bishops, Jerome saieth, that at the first when Presbyters governed, 1 the ( charge or ) care of the Church was equally divided amongst many. You say no ; there was never any such time, it were lack of wisdom so to think. Your words be, 2 Jerome, when he said the Churches were at the first governed by the common advice of the Presbyters, may not be thought to have been , as to dream that none of the Presbyters was chief of that assembly. Jerome saieth the care of the Church was equally divided amongst them ; you say it were a dream and a folly so to suppose. And thus is Jerome rewarded for bearing witness to your Presbyteral regiment.1 Hiero. in ca. 1. epist. ad Tit. 2 Ad tractationem de gradibus ministrorum Evangelii in ca. 23.
Again, Jerome saieth that upon the primary dissentions of Presbyters, it was decreed in the whole world ; 1 (
Ut omnis Ecclesiae cura ad unum pertineret ; ) that the whole care or charge of the Church should pertain to One. This you cannot digest ; for if this be true, your lay Elders had nothing to do with Church matters since Bishops began. Jerome’s whole tale therefore, your selves reject as untrue ; only you hold fast the latter end, which you understand not, and thence you would prove, that the governing of the Church by Bishops, was man’s invention contrary to God’s institution. In all reason when you impugn the two parts of your own witnesses deposition, we might refuse the third ; but we will not, presuming that Jerome would not so grossely contradict himself, as to say the superiority of Bishops above Presbyters was, and was not an Apostolic ordinance.
Jerome’s words then, that the Bishops majority above Presbyters came 1 rather by the custom of the Church, than by the truth of the Lord’s disposition, may be two ways construed. First, that by the truth of the Lord’s disposition, he meaneth a precept from Christ’s mouth ; and by the custom of the Church, he understandeth a continuation of that regiment even from the Apostles. For 2 Veritas is often taken with the ancient Fathers for a truth written in the Scriptures, and 2 consuetudo for a thing delivered by hand from the Apostles, which otherwise they call a tradition. And so though there be no precept from Christ in writing for that kind of government ; yet the perpetual custom of the Church proveth it to be an Apostolic ordinance.1 In ca. 1. epist. ad Tuum. 2 Vide Tertul. de corona Militis. 2 Cyprianum contra Stephani. 2
Concilium Carthag. de baptizand. haeretic.2 August. contra Donatist. li. 4. ca. 24.
Another sense of Jerome’s words may be this. At the first for a time the Presbyters with common advice and equal care guided the Church under the Apostles ; 1 but ( after Bishops were appointed ) the whole care thereof was by little and little derived unto one ; and so at length by custom, Presbyters were utterly excluded from all advice and counsel ( whereof Ambrose complaineth, ) and Bishops only intermeddled with the regiment of the Church. This manner of subjection in Presbyters, & prelation in bishops grew only in continuance of time, & not by any ordinance of Christ or his Apostles. At first, ye Presbyters were left as in part of the charge of the part of the dignity. This seemeth to be the right intent of Jerome’s speech, by the words that follow. For to revoke the sovereignty of Bishops over Presbyters to the truth of the divine ordinance, he saith, 2 Let the Bishops know, that ( according to the truth of the Lord’s disposition, howsoever the custom of the Church now be to the contrary ) they should rule the Church in common ( with the Presbyters ) after the example of Moses, who when it lay in his power to be Ruler alone over the people of Israel, he chose seventy to help him Judge the people.
What they ought to do, that was the truth of the Lord’s disposition. Now they ought to do as Moses did. What ? to have all Governours equal ? no ; but when they might rule alone, to join with them others in the fellowship of their power and honour, as Moses did. Moses did not abrogate his superiority above others ; but took seventy Elders into part of his charge. This saieth Jerome was the truth of the Lord’s ordinance, although by the custom of the Church, as it then was, ( which grew
paulatim, not when Bishops were first ordained, but by degrees in decurse of time ) they had the whole charge of the Church without advising or conferring with the Presbyters. For 3 the Presbyters might neither baptise without the Bishop’s leave, nor preach in the Bishop’s presence : which subjection, Jerome saieth, was not after the truth of the Lord’s ordinance, howsoever the custom of the Church had then strengthened it.
This to be Jerome’s true meaning in this place his own words elsewhere do fully prove, which are these. 1 To make us understand that the Apostolic traditions were taken out of the old Testament ; what Aaron, and his sons, and the Levites were in the Temple, that let the Bishops, and Presbyters, and Deacons challenge to themselves in the Church.
The high Priest I hope was superiour to his sons, not only as a Father, but as having the chiefest place and office about the Ark, and after in the Temple. And as it was there, so the Apostles ordained, saith Jerome, that Bishops and Presbyters should differ in the Church of Christ. Scan this place a little, I pray you, and tell me whether Jerome avouch, that Bishops should be superiour to Presbyters by the tradition and ordinance of the Apostles, or no ; If that point be clear, add these words of Master Beza ( which are very sound ) to Saint Jerome’s, to make up the Syllogism. 2
, si ab ipsis Apostolis esset profecta ( haec mutatio ) non vererer illam, ut caeteras Apostolicas ordinationes, divinae in solidum dispositioni tribuere. ( change to the regiment of Bishops ) proceeded from the Apostles, I would not doubt throughly to ascribe it to divine disposition, as I do other ordinances of the Apostles ;
but Jerome expressly confesseth it was an Apostolic ordinance ; ergo, without any staggering or doubting, it must be acknowledged by you, that it was God’s disposition. Thus much for Jerome. Now for Ambrose ( before we go to further proof; ) because some strange fancies of this fresh Discipline are fastened on him ; let us likewise examine what he saith for either side.
Ut sciamus traditiones Apostolicas sumptas de veteri Testamento; quod Aaron & filij eius at que Levitae in Templo fuerunt, hoc sibi Episcopi, Presbyteri & Diaconi vendicent in Ecclesia2 Theodore Beza Ad tractationem de gradibus ministorum in ca. 23.
There is one thing in Ambrose barely surmised, but no way proved, and that is eagerly caught up by the Disciplinarians, and made a shipman’s hose for their new devices : there are four other points in the same places, that have surer ground and more agreement with the rest of the Fathers ; and those are positively repelled as frivolous and false by the principles of this pretended Discipline. Ambrose imagineth, ( for no proof can be made thereof, either by Scripture or History ) that the first Bishops were for a while made by order as they sat in the Church, so as the place falling void by the death or departure of the first, the next succeeded in his room. This course was afterward changed into elections ; but when, or by whom, he neither doth, nor can tell. From this supposal these three conclusions are drawn, but all three far from Ambrose’s speech or meaning. First, that this priority of place went round the Presbytery ; every man taking it in order for a season, when his course came. Next, that the Priour or President for the time, which they call a Bishop, or Supervisour for his week, differed not in degree from the rest, but only in this honour to have the chief place. Thirdly, that his office was to call the rest together, and to guide their meetings that they should be orderly ; and to propound matters for the whole Presbytery to consult and conclude with the consent of the greater number ; himself having but a voice as one of the rest, neither negative nor affirmative in anything, but as the most part did resolve. This is the Bishop which they have framed us out of Saint Ambrose’s words ; and this Bishop they are content shall be perpetual in the Church of Christ, and an essential part of God’s ordinance. This is the right description of the Major and Aldermen of a City, or Bailiff and Burgesses of a lesser Town with us in England ; but this is no description of a Bishop in the Church of Christ. For how long will it be before ye be able to prove, I say not all, but any one of these assertions ? What Scripture ever mentioned, what Father ever imagined any such Bishop ?
The fathers you will say, were all infected with human inventions ; and God’s institution hath ever since the Apostles time been neglected in all the Churches, and of all the persons in the world, till of late. I hear what you say ; and did I not read it with mine eyes, I should think they were deeply asleep, that dream so well of themselves ; but since it is printed, I would gladly see how it can be proved.
Ambrose you say, leadeth you so to think ; for he affirmeth that every Presbyter was a Bishop when it came to his course, and their courses went round by order. Ambrose contradicteth it as plainly as he can speak ; and saith, that 1 not every Presbyter was a Bishop, but he only was a Bishop which was primus inter Presbyteros, the first ( or chiefest ) amongst the Presbyters.1 Ambros in 1. ad Tim. ca. 3.
[ Nay, first in order ; in whose place when he departed, the next succeeded. ] They were capable of the Bishopric, as they stood in order. Now that order must go either as they were eldest in standing, or worthiest in gifts. Which of these two orders did the Presbyters keep, can you tell ? [ Not I. ] Nor Ambrose neither. He supposest that to sit in the Church, and in other their assemblies, they had an order, and so no doubt they had ; but whether they were placed by the Apostles according to their merits ; or kept their places by seniority, as they were ordained, or cast lots amongst themselves for avoiding of ambition and contention, neither Ambrose, neither any man living could, or can tell. [ But the first always was the Bishop ; and consequently they differed not in degree, but in order. ] How now masters, will you cross S. Paul’s words so flatly, who saieth that God hath ordained 1 first, Apostles ; secondly, Prophets ; thirdly, Teachers ? Are these divers degrees or no ? [ What else. ] And were not all these, when they taught in any place, of the Presbytery ? [ They were. ] Then did the Presbyters differ not in order only but in degree also.1 1. Cor. 12.
[ We speak not of Apostles, Evangelists, and Prophets, when we say the Presbyters differed one from another only in order, and not in degree ; but of Pastours that had their charge in that place where they lived. ] The question is not of whom you speak, but of whom Ambrose spoke ; we examine his words, not yours ; and he clearly accounteth them all to be Presbyters. For example, Timothy that you say was an Evangelist, Ambrose reckoneth him for a Presbyter, and saith he was a Bishop, though he were a Presbyter, because there was none other before him. And had not Ambrose specially named him, I hope you will exclude neither Apostles, nor Prophets, nor Evangelists from the number of 1 Presbyters, wheresoever they were present. Now choose you whether you will say, all these were no Presbyters, 2 Saint Peter expressly saying the contrary ; or else admit, that in the order of Presbyters there were divers degrees of ecclesiastical functions, and so your distinction of ordo and gradus, to be nothing near Saint Ambrose’s meaning. For he by ordo, understandeth the their or , and either of those orders doth evidently admit many divers degrees of ecclesiastical callings.1 In Ephes. ca. 4. & 1. ad Tim. ca. 3. 2 1. Pet. 5.
[ If Ambrose do not affirm it ; we do. ] I can soon admit you to affirm what you list : for when you have done, except you prove it, I will not believe it, but I see no cause why you should ground that distinction on Ambrose’s words. In place convenient you shall have leave to say what you can to maintain your distinction ; in the mean time I would have you mark, that you take Ambrose’s mere guesses, which cannot be justified, for your greatest grounds. For tell me, when ever, or where ever were Bishops chosen by order as they were eldest ? Again, was Timothy chosen Bishop by his standing at Ephesus ? Or did Paul leave him there for the great affiance he had in his sincere and upright dealing ? When the Apostle first wrote to Timothy how to behave himself in the house of God, and on whom to impose hands ; did Paul will him to take them as they stood in order, or to choose men answerable to those conditions which he prescribed ? The first rules that were given in the Scriptures for the creation of Bishops and Presbyters, were by choice, not by order ; before those, how can Ambrose or any man else prove, that Bishops were ordained in order as they stood, without choice ? Now if you could show any such thing, which I am assured you cannot ; yet this change from order to choice is the manifest commandement of God’s spirit, witnessed by Paul both to Titus and Timothy. And therefore your kind of going in order to make Bishops, was, and is repugnant to the Apostles general and Canonical rule of choosing the fittest men to be Bishops, which ever since hath endured in the Church of Christ as a special and express part of God’s ordinance confirmed by the Scriptures.
But do you yourselves admit this imagination of Ambrose, which you fortify against Bishops ? Are not you the first men that check your own witness, and thereby show, that though you allege Ambrose, you do not believe Ambrose in this very point which you bring him for ? A great learned man of your side saieth, and in my judgement saieth truly, 1 The commandement of election which must be kept unchanged not only in Deacons, but in all sacred functions is one thing ; the manner of electing is another thing. Then is there a commandement no doubt of Christ by his Apostle, ( it could not otherwise be inviolable, ) that to all sacred functions men should be taken by election, and not by order of standing. If Ambrose spoke of the time before this commandement ; when that was, no man knoweth. And therefore I have reason to say, it was never prescribed in the Scriptures, nor used in any Church or age that we read, but only surmised by Ambrose, because he did not find who were Bishops in every Church, before Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, to make choice of meet men to be Bishops and Presbyters.1 Responsio Bezae ad tractationem de ministrorum Evangelii gradibus.
Lest you mislike that I say Ambrose roaveth at some things which cannot be proved, and need not be credited ; tell me yourselves what you say to these reports of Ambrose in the same place ; 1 At the first, all men did teach, and all men did baptize. At the beginning, every man was suffered to preach, baptize, and expound the Scriptures in the Church : Now neither Deacons preach to the people, neither do ( inferiour ) Clerics or Lay men baptize. Believe you that all men, or Lay men did preach and baptize at the first spreading of the Gospel ? I know you do not ; your positions are most direct against it. Yet Ambrose avoucheth it ; and the proof he bringeth for it, is as slender as the report. Because Peter commanded Cornelius and those that were with him to be baptized ; and there came with Peter none from Joppe but 2 certain brethren ; he concludeth that those were Lay men, because they are called brethren, and did baptize Cornelius and the rest, Peter looking on and willing them to do it. How weak this collection is, I doubt not but you quickly find : and the words which you bring, are the next to these, and proceed from the very same persuasion that this did ; which was, that all things at the first erecting of the Church, were permitted and confused, the paucity of the persons and necessity of the times so requiring, and then it skilled not who were Presbyters, and who were Bishops. Yet if you press Ambrose, I will not reject him ; for he saith no more, but that the next Presbyter was to succeed after the place was void : But that either they went round by course, or did govern by weeks or months, or that a Bishop should not differ from a Presbyter by power to ordain others, which are the things that you affirm to be God’s ordinance ; in any of these if you prove that Ambrose maketh with you, we will give you the whole.1 Ambros. in 4. cap. ad Ephesios. 2 Act. 10. v. 23.
Besides this, Ambrose hath four special points in these very places, ( which you allege against Bishops, ) so contrary to your new discipline, as high noon is to midnight. The is, where he shutteth your lay Presbyters out of doors, in saying ; 1 A Presbyter and a Bishop have all one ordination, for either is a Priest, and so neither is Lay. The , that he saieth, 2 Paul made Timothy the Evangelist, both a Presbyter, and a Bishop, neither of which your discipline can abide, that either Evangelists should be Bishops, or that Paul should at any time consecrate Bishops. The ; 3 It is neither right nor lawful, saieth he, for ( a Presbyter which is ) an inferiour to ordain ( a Bishop which is ) a Superiour ; and consequently, your Presbyters may not impose hands on a Bishop, as Chrysostom also telleth you. The is, that where you say the people must have the election of their Bishop or Pastour by God’s law, Ambrose saieth it must be done 4 by the Judgement of many Priests, and not by the verdict of the people or lay Presbyters.1 Ambros. in 1. ad Tim. ca. 3. 2 Idem in Ephes. ca. 4. 3 Idem in 1. ad Tim. ca. 3. 4 Idem in Ephes. ca. 4.
That some chief Pastours, in, and ever since the Apostles times have been distinguished from the rest of the Presbyters by the power of ordination and right of succession, and placed in every City, to preserve the external unity and perpetuity of the Church, whom the ancient Fathers did, and we after them do call by the name of Bishops.
BEfore I demonstrate the vocation and function of Bishops to be Apostolic, the ambiguity of the name of Bishop, and community of many things incident and pertinent both to Bishops and Presbyters, urge me to lay down and deliver certain peculiar marks and parts of the Bishops power and office, whereby they are always distinguished from Presbyters, and never confounded with them either in Scriptures, Councils or Fathers. Prerogatives there were many appropriate unto them by the authority of the Canons and custom of the Church : as reconciling of penitents, confirmation of Infants and others that were baptized by laying on their hands, dedication of Churches, and such like : but these tended as Jerome saith, 1 (
ad honorem sacerdotis potius quam ad legis necessitatem, ) to the honour of their Priesthood, rather than to the necessity of any law. The things proper to Bishops, which might not be common to Presbyters, were singularity in succeeding, and superiority in ordaining. These two, the Scriptures and Fathers reserve only to Bishops ; they never communicate them unto Presbyters. In every Church and City there might be many Presbyters ; there could be but one chief to govern the rest : the Presbyters for need might impose hands on Penitents and Infants ; but by no means might they ordain Bishops or Ministers of the word and Sacraments.
Neither are these trifling differences, or devised by me. The external unity and perpetuity of the Church depend wholly on these. As to avoid schisms, Bishops were first appointed ; so to maintain the Churches in unity, the singularity of one Pastour over each flock is commended in the Scriptures. And as Bishops preserve the unity of each Church, in that there may be but one in a place ; so they continue the same unto perennity, by ordaining such as shall both help them living, and succeed them dying.
1 Cyprian hath written a whole book to prove that the unity of each Church resteth on the singularity of the Pastour, whither I remit him, that is desirous to read more at large ; as also to his first book and third epistle, entreating of the same matter, and written to Cornelius. The effect of all is contained in these words ; 2 Who is so wicked and perfidious, who so mad with the fury of discord, that believeth the unity of God, the Lord’s vesture, the Church of Christ, may be torn in pieces, or dare tear it ? Himself in his Gospel warneth and teacheth ( us ) saying, There shall be one flock, and one shepherd. And doth any man think there may be in one place, either many shepherds, or many flocks ?
In the foresaid Epistle speaking of himself, not of the Bishop of Rome, as fondly and falsely the Papists conceive, he saith ; 3 Heresies have sprung, and schisms risen from none other fountain than this, that God’s Priest is not obeyed, nor in the Church acknowledged for the time, to be judge in Christ’s stead ; to whom if all the brethren would be subject according to the divine directions, no man would after the divine judgments, after the suffrages of the people, after the consent of other Bishops, make himself judge now, not of the Bishop, but of God.
Jerome saieth as much, 4 The dumb beasts and wild herds do follow their leaders, the Bees have their kings, the Cranes fly after one like an Alphabet of letters. One Emperour, one Judge of each Province. Rome, as soon as it was built, could not have two brethren to be kings. Jacob & Esau fought in one womb. Every Church hath but one Bishop, one chief Presbyter, one chief Deacon, and each ecclesiastical order resteth on their Rulers. In a ship is but one that directeth the helve ; in a house but one Master ; in an army never so great, the sign of one General is expected. Yea 5 the very safety of the Church dependeth on the dignity of the chief Priest or Bishop, (
cui si non exors & ab omnibus eminens detur potestas, tot in ecclesijs efficientur schismata, quot sacerdotes; ) to whom if there be not given a peerless power and eminence above all others, there will be as many schisms in the Church as there be Priests. Thence is it, that except the Bishop give leave, neither Presbyter nor Deacon have right to baptize.
De unitate ecclesiae, vel de singularitate praelatorum. 2
Cypria. de unitate ecclesiae. 3 Idem li. 1. epist. 3 4 Hier. ad Rusticum Monachum. 5 Idem advers. Luciferianos.
The singularity of one Pastour in every place, preserveth the Peace and Unity of the Churches, and stoppeth Schisms and dissentions, for which cause they were first ordained by the Apostles. And therefore is the conclusion general, both with Councils and Fathers, that there could be but one Bishop in one City, where the Presbyters were many.1 Euseb. li. 6. ca. 43. 2 Raffi. ecclesiast. hist. li. 1. ca. 6. 3 Chrysost. hom. 1. in epist. ad Philip. 4 Theodoret. in 1. ca. ad Philip. 5 Oecumen. in 1. ca. ad Philip. 6 Optat. contra Parmenianum. li. 2. 7 Hiero. in 1. ca. ad Philipp. 8 Ambros. in 1. ca. ad Philip. 9 Ambros. in 3. ca. 1. ad Tim.
This is a certain rule to distinguish Bishops from Presbyters ; the Presbyters were many in every Church, of whom the Presbytery consisted. Bishops were always singular ; that is, one in a City and no more, except another intruded, ( which the Church of Christ counted a Schism, and would never communicate with any such ) or else a helper were given in respect of extreme and feeble age ; in which case, the power of the latter ceased in the presence of the former. And this singularity of one Pastour in each place, descended from the Apostles and their Schollers in all the famous Churches of the world by a perpetual , and doth to this day continue, but where abomination or desolation, I mean heresy or violence interrupt it. Of this there is so perfect record in all the histories and Fathers of the Church, that I much muse with what face men that have any taste of learning, can deny the vocation of Bishops came from the . For if their succession be Apostolic, their function cannot choose, but be likewise Apostolic ; and that they succeeded the Apostles and Evangelists in their Churches and chairs, may inevitably be proved, if any Christian persons or Churches deserve to be credited.
The second assured sign of Episcopal power, is imposition of hands to ordain Presbyters and Bishops. For as Pastours were to have some to assist them in their charge, which were Presbyters ; so were they to have others to succeed them in their places which were Bishops. And this right by imposing hands to ordain Presbyters & Bishops in the Church of Christ, was at first derived from the Apostles unto Bishops, and not unto Presbyters ; and hath for these fifteen hundred years without example or instance to the contrary, till this our age, remained in Bishops and not in Presbyters. Philip 1 preached and baptized at Samaria ; but he could not give the graces of the holy Ghost by imposition of hands to make fit Pastours and Teachers for the work of the ministry ; the Apostles were forced to come from Jerusalem to furnish the Church of Samaria with meet men to labour in the word and doctrine. The like we find by Paul and Barnabas in the Acts ; who visited the Churches where they had preached, and supplied them with 2 Presbyters in every place that wanted. Paul 3 left Titus to do the like in Crete ; and Timothy was sent to Ephesus 4 to impose hands, notwithstanding the Church there had Presbyters long before. Jerome where he retcheth the Presbyter’s office to the uttermost, of purpose to show that he may do by the word of God as much as the Bishop, he excepteth this one point as unlawful for Presbyters by the Scriptures. 5 What doeth a Bishop save ordination, which a Presbyter may not do ? He saieth not what doeth a Bishop, which a Presbyter doeth not ? For by the custom and Canons of the Church, very many things were forbidden Presbyters, which by God’s word they might do : but he appealeth to God’s ordinance, which in his Commentaries upon Titus he calleth the divine institution ; and by that he confesseth it was not lawful for Presbyters to ordain any. And why ? That power was reserved to the Apostles, and such as succeeded them, not generally in the Church, but specially in the chair.1 Acts. 8. 2 Acts. 14. 3 Titus 1. 4 1. Tim. 5. 1 Hiero. ad Evagrium.
Thence doth Chrysostom infer very precisely against your new Discipline, that in Paul’s words to Timothy, 1 Neglect not the gift that was given thee, with imposition of hands of the Presbytery, by the word Presbytery in that place of Scripture must be understood Bishops, not Presbyters, and giveth this reason. 2 (
οὐ γὰρ δὴ πρεσβύτεροι τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἐχειροτόνουν, ) for Presbyters in the Apostles time did not impose hands on a Bishop. Yea, saith he, 3 (
οὐκ ἂν δὲ πρεσβύτεροι ἐπίσκοπον ἐχειροτόνησαν, ) Presbyters then could not impose hands on a Bishop.
Chrysostom doth not reason from his own age unto the Apostles, and conclude, because they might not do it in that world, wherein he lived by a custom of the Church, ergo, they could not do it in Paul’s time ; that were a very senseless and unsavory collection ; but he urgeth that in Paul’s time Presbyters might not ordain a Bishop ; and therefore those words must be understood of Bishops, which by the Apostolic rules might impose hands, whereas Presbyters might not. The very same point he repeateth and presseth when he giveth a reason why Paul in his Epistle to Timothy went from describing Bishops straight to Deacons omitting clean the order of Presbyters, 4 The difference betwixt Bishops and Presbyters is not great ; for they also were admitted to teach and rule the Church. And what Paul said of Bishops, that agreeth unto Presbyters. Only in laying on of hands Bishops go beyond them, and have that Only thing more than Presbyters.
Theodoret, 5 The Presbytery Paul calleth here such as had received Apostolical, or Episcopal, grace,
for by Theodoret’s opinion Bishops were then called 6 Apostles, and Presbyters called by the name of Bishops. Oecumenius, 7 Lay hands hastily on no man. (
περὶ χειροτονιῶν διαλαμβάνει, ἐπισκόπῳ γὰρ ἔγραφε, ) Paul treateth of imposing hands, for he wrote .
Ambrose rendereth the same reason why Paul mentioning Bishops and Deacons, did clean overskip Presbyters ; and noteth the same difference betwixt Presbyters and Bishops that Chrysostom doth. 1 Timothy, because he had none other before him, was a Bishop. Wherefore Paul showeth him how he shall ordain a Bishop. (
Neque enim fas erat aut licebat, ut inferior ordinaret maiorem. Nemo enim tribuit quod non accepit ; ) For it was neither lawful nor permitted that the inferiour should ordain the greater. No man giveth that which he hath not received.
That Timothy was a bishop, is confessed by the rest of the Fathers, I alleged them 2 before ; Paul calleth him 3
συνεργὸν, his Co-partner in the Gospel, and joineth Timothy with himself in writing to the 4 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, and 5 Thessalonians : thereby to show that he had received Timothy, not only into the fellowship of his Ministry, but given him part of his authority, and made choice of him to abide at Ephesus to establish and confirm the Church when he thus wrote unto him. Wherefore Timothy had not this prerogative by order or seniority ; he was no Presbyter of Ephesus, but there left with Episcopal authority, which he had by the laying on of Paul’s hands before he stayed at Ephesus. But howsoever he came by it ; by Paul’s choice or otherwise ; Ambrose acknowledgeth he was a bishop, and therefore superiour to Presbyters ; because he was invested with power to ordain bishops, which Presbyters had not. His words be full. 6 (
Neque fas erat, neque licebat, ut inferior ordinaret maiorem, ) It was neither lawful, nor agreeable to religion, ( for fas is that which is consonant to the service of God, as ius expresseth that which is right amongst men ) for the inferiour to ordain the superior, to wit, that a Presbyter should ordain a bishop.
[ We greatly care not who should ordain Bishops ; for as we think there need none in the Church of Christ : but touching Presbyters, that is, Ministers of the word and Sacraments, the fourth Council of Carthage is very clear, they may be ordained by Presbyters. Their words are these. 1 When a Presbyter is ordained, the Bishop blessing him, and holding his hand on the parties head, let all the Presbyters that are present hold their hands near the Bishop’s hand on his head ( who is ordered ) ; Presbyters are sufficient to create Presbyters, and they may discharge all Ecclesiastical duties in the Church. For Bishops let them care that like them. ] The Council of Carthage doth not tell you, that Presbyters might ordain Presbyters without a bishop ; look better to the words ; such Presbyters as were present must hold their hands on the parties head, near the bishop’s hand ; but without the bishop they had no power of themselves to impose hands. Now to what end they imposed hands ; whether to ordain and consecrate as well as the bishop ; or because the Action was sacred and public, to consent and bless together, with the bishop, this is all the doubt. If they had power to ordain as well as the bishop, and without the bishop, all the Fathers which I before cited, were utterly deceived. For they say no. Yea, Jerome, that neither could forget nor would suppress ( being one himself ) any part of their power, knew not so much. For he confesseth that bishops might ordain by imposing hands, Presbyters might not. And therefore though they held their hands near the bishop’s hand, yet did they not ordain, as the bishop did.1 Council. Carthaginens. 4. ca. 3.
[ How know you to what end they joined with the Bishop in imposing hands ? The action was common to both, and no difference is expressed in that Council between their intents. ] Unless you be disposed to set Councils and Fathers together by the ears, you must make their imposition of hands, to be a consent, rather than a consecration ; and so may the authorities of all sides stand upright. Otherwise by an action, that admittteth divers ends and purposes, you overthrow the main resolution, not only of other Councils and Fathers, but of the same Synod which you allege : for that giveth Presbyters no power to ordain without the bishop, but to conjoin their hands with his.
[ Many things were interdicted Presbyters by the Canons, which were not by the Scriptures ; but you must show us that Presbyters and Bishops differ by the word of God, before we can yield them to be divers degrees. ] If Presbyters by the word of God may ordain with imposing hands as well as Bishops, howsoever by the custom of the Church they be restrained or subjected under Bishops, they be all one in degree with Bishops, though not in dignity ; for all other things as Jerome avoucheth are common unto them : but if that power be granted by God’s Law to Bishops, and denied to Presbyters ; then struggle while you will, you shall find them in the end to be distinct and divers degrees. That Bishops may ordain, the Apostle’s words to Timothy and Titus exactly prove. 1 Lay hands hastily on no man. For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ordain Presbyters in every City. You must now prove by the sacred Scriptures that Presbyters may ordain as well as Bishops : if not, they be distinct degrees, that have by God’s Law distinct powers and actions.1 1. Tim. 5. Tit. 1.
[ Our proofs are clear : 1 Neglect not the gift, which was given the with imposition of hands of the Presbytery. And this right for Presbyters to impose hands jointly with the Bishop, endured no long time in the Church as we show by the fourth Council of Carthage. ] I have often told you that place of Saint Paul concludeth nothing for you, it hath so many answers. Jerome giveth you one, Chrysostom another, and Saint Paul himself a third. If you like not with Jerome, Ambrose and Primasius, to take the Presbytery for the function which Timothy received, which Calvin well alloweth ; nor with Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the rest of the Grecians, to apply it to Bishops, forsomuch as Presbyters by their judgments could not impose hands on a Bishop ; yet remember Saint Paul was present and did the deed ; and therefore without some succeeding and supplying the Apostles room as Timothy and Titus did, your Presbyteries have no warrant to impose hands. And so much is evident by that very Council which you bring. For the Bishop must first bless the party and impose hands on him ; and then the Presbyters there present must lay their hands near the Bishops in sign of consent. But without the Bishop no Presbyters did bless or impose hands to ordain any that ever we read either in Scriptures or Histories. And because you shall not say, I speak without Book, as I see many do in our days, mark well these examples, and tell me what you think of them.1 1. Tim 4. 1 Concil. Hispalens. 2. ca. 5.
Propter tantam praesumptionis audaciam poterat judicio praesenti damnari si non fuisset morte preventus; decrevimus, ut qui ab eo non consecrationis titulum sed ignominiae elogium perceperunt, a gradis sacerdotalis vel Levitici ordinis &c.
Colluthus was a Presbyter in 1 one of the Churches of Alexandria, and falling away from the Bishop there for some mislikes, ordained certain Presbyters, himself being but a Presbyter. For this, Colluthus was convented 2 in the general Council before Hosius and the rest of the Bishops ; and commanded to carry himself for a Presbyter as he was before ; and all those that were ordained by him to return to their former state. It after fell out that one Ischyras pretending himself to be a Presbyter of Colluthus making, accused Macarius of sacrilegious violence offered unto him, then ministering at the Lord’s Table, as he said, and having the mystical cup in his hand. A hundred Bishops assembled at a Council in Egypt, or near that number, to convince Ischyras of a lie, prove that Ischyras was no Presbyter, and so could not be assaulted while he was handling the divine mysteries. Their words be these. 3 How then is Ischyras a Presbyter ? or by whom was he made ? What, by Colluthus ? But Colluthus himself died in the degree of a Presbyter, and all his imposition of hands was reversed, & such as were made by him were cast back into the order of Laymen, and admitted to the Communion as Laymen, which is so clear that no man ever doubted of it. They conclude that Ischyras, if he were made by Colluthus, could be no Presbyter, for so much as Colluthus was a Presbyter and no Bishop ; and all his imposition of hands frustrated, and all the persons ordained by him, neither accounted nor admitted into the Church but under the name of Laymen. And this reversing of Colluthus orders, and agnising none that he ordained but for Laymen, was so clear a case, and uncontroverted with all men, that no man ever made any scruple of it. You shall do well considerately to read the place ; it importeth the universal consent of the Primitive Church to have been this, that no Presbyter could ordain a Presbyter ; but those that received imposition of hands from any such, were throughout the Church of Christ esteemed and reputed mere Laymen, and not otherwise accepted to the Lord’s Table.1
Epiphanius haeres. 69. 2 Athanasius Apolog. 2. In literis Presbyteror. Maritic. ad Curiosum & Philagrium. 3 Athan. Apol. 2.
Quo pacto igitur Presbyter Ischyras aut quo tandem authore constitutus? Numquid scilicet a Collutho? Colluthum in gradu Presbyterij mortuum, omnemque eius manuum impositionem rescissam, omnesque ab eo constitutos, in Laicorum ordinem redactos esse, &c.
Maximus that was very familiar and inward with Gregory Nazianzen, while he lived at Constantinople and obtained at his hands to be 1 taken into the Clergy, and placed with the Presbyters of that City, finding that Miletius Bishop of Antioch, and others had translated Gregory from Nazianzum to Constantinople without a full Synod, somewhat contrary to the Canons, procured Peter bishop of Alexandria to send some bishops of Egypt that did consecrate him bishop of Constantinople. When this came to be debated in the second general Council, the whole Synod not only rejected Maximus as no bishop, but all that took any imposition of hands from him in what degree of the Clergy soever they were ; by reason they found him a Presbyter and no Bishop ; and so without all power to impose hands. 2 Concerning Maximus and his disorder at Constantinople ( we resolve ) that Maximus neither presently is, nor hereafter shall be made a Bishop ; neither any that received imposition of hands from him, shall remain in any degree of the Clergy, all that was done either to him, or by him being wholly frustrate ( or disallowed. ) If Presbyters might impose hands, Maximus was lawfully called to that degree by Gregory Nazianzen, and then had the Council no cause to mislike such as were ordained by him. But they lay this for their ground, that he was never a lawful bishop ; and therefore all that he did in imposing hands, was utterly void. By this I trust you see it pertained only to Bishops to ordain by imposition of hands, and not to Presbyters ; you have the clear decision of the Primitive Church, that Presbyters might not ordain Presbyters, much less might they lay hands on bishops.1 Gregor. in vita Nazianzeni. 2 Concil. Constantinopolitan. 1. ca. 4.
[ Their meaning is, that Presbyters without a Bishop could not impose hands ; but with the Bishop they might, and did, as the Council of Carthage which we brought you, confirmeth. And as they might not do it without a Bishop, so the Bishop might not do it without them. ] It is well yet we have obtained thus much, that without a bishop there can be no imposition of hands to make Presbyters ; how think you then? Must there be bishops in the church of Christ or no? And are they all one with Presbyters, or a several degree from them?
[ They both concur in ordaining ; and neither may impose hands without the other. ] You must forsake this fort, as well as you did the former. For in that Council of Carthage, which you cite, neither is there any number of Presbyters prefixed, nor their presence required ; only this is prescribed, if any be present, they shall approve the bishop’s doings with laying their hands next his. The bishop imposeth not hands, either in their names, or at their perils, if anything be done against the Canons ; but as he alone blesseth & consecrateth the person that is ordered to the service of God, so if aught be otherwise than well, he alone is in danger for it. The Council of Hispalis saith, 1 The Bishop alone may give Priests and Deacons their honor, but he can not alone take it from them. Neither had Bishops always such store of Presbyters either present, or pertaining to them as you imagine. In greater churches they had greater numbers ; in smaller they had often two, somewhere one, & sometimes none ; & yet for all this defect of Presbyters, the Bishops there did not refrain to impose hands without them.1 Concil. Hispalens. 2. ca. 6.
The number of Presbyters in many places were 1 two in a Church, as Ambrose writeth, sometimes but one. In the third Council of Carthage, when it was agreed that the Primate of that City might take the Presbyters of every Diocese, and ordain them Bishops for such places as desired them, though the Bishop, under whom the Presbyter before lived, were unwilling to spare him ; 2 Posthumianus a Bishop demanded, What if a Bishop have but one only Presbyter, must that one be taken from him ? Aurelius ( the Bishop of Carthage ) answered, One Bishop may ordain many Presbyters, but a Presbyter fit for a Bishopric is hardly found. Wherefore if a man have but one only Presbyter, and fit for the room of a Bishop, he ought to yield that one to be ordained. Posthumianus replied, Then if another Bishop have a number of Clerics, another’s store should relieve me. Aurelius concluded, Surely as you helped another church, so he that hath many Clerics shall be driven to spare you one of them to be ordained by you. Three things are evident by the purport of this speech ; first, that some bishops had oftentimes but one Presbyter ; and he might be taken from them. Next, that a Bishop having no Presbyter left, might make many when he would, if he had fit men of his own for the place. Thirdly, that if he wanted meet men, another Church should allow him, according to his loss, some to be ordained by him. A Bishop then having no Presbyter left to join with him, might alone ordain both such of his own church as were meet, and such as were sent him from other places.1 1. ad Tim. ca. 1 1 Concil. Carthaginens. 3. ca. 45.
Again, when anything was done in ordering of Ministers against the Laws or Canons ; not the Presbyters, but only the bishop was punished for imposing his hands, and transgressing the discipline of the Church. Now had the Presbyters been Agents in ordaining, as well as the bishop ; no reason to let them go free that were parties to the contempt as well as the bishop. But for that his hands did ordain and authorize, theirs did nothing but allow his fact, which by dissenting they could not hinder ; therefore the Laws and Canons, as they did charge the Bishop and not the Presbyters to see those rules observed, that were required for the making of Ministers ; so they did challenge the Bishop and no man else for violating the same with imposition of his hands, if aught were otherwise than well. And for that cause both Laws and Canons speak singularly to one, not plurally to many, when they repress disorders in creating Presbyters & Deacons ; to show there was one chief and principal Actor amongst them in those cases, whose fact it was ; the rest only following & witnessing his doings.
For the Clergy of the Paulianists, when they returned to the Church, if they were without fault, and blameless, the Council of Nicea thus decreed, (
χειροτονείσθωσαν ὑπὸ τοῦ τῆς καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐπισκόπου, ) 1 Let them receive imposition of hands from the Bishop of the Catholic Church. The Council of Antioch, 2 Every Bishop shall have power in his Diocese (
ὡς καὶ χειροτονεῖν πρεσβυτέρους καὶ διακόνους, ) to ordain Presbyters and Deacons. 3 If any Bishop, saieth the Council of Chalcedon, shall for money ordain, either Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, or any other reckoned amongst the Clergy ; he shall being convicted thereof endanger his own degree. And again : 4 None, neither Presbyter, nor Deacon, nor generally any within the Ecclesiastical order, must be ordained
ἀπολελυμένως, that is, affixed to no certain place. If any be so made, the sacred Council hath decreed their ordination shall be void ; but it shall not return to the reproach, or detriment,
τοῦ χειροτονήσαντος, of him that imposed hands. 5 If thou speak of Paulinianus ( saieth Jerome against the errors of John of Jerusalem ) thou seest him subject to his own Bishop living in Cyprus ; and coming now and then to visit us ; not as any of your, but of another Bishop’s Clergy ; even his, of whom he was ordained. 6 We permit not any Clergy man of what degree soever ( saieth the Emperour ) to give any reward to him of whom he is ordained.
And so generally for the breach and neglect of any of the Imperial Laws prescribed for the ordering of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, the Presbyters were not punished which joined with the Bishop, but 7 qui ordinat, or qui ordinationem imponit ; the bishop that ordained them was punished ; because it lay in him alone by withholding or imposing his hands to frustrate or finish the whole action.
Wherefore I see no cause, why some Writers in our days should discredit the report and reason, which Epiphanius maketh against Aerius, that a Presbyter could not be equal with a Bishop ; for so much as the order of Bishops 1 engendereth Fathers unto the Church ; and the order of Presbyters (
πατέρας μὴ δυναμένη γεννᾶν, ) not able to beget Fathers, by the regeneration of baptism begetteth children unto the church ; but not fathers or teachers, and so no possibility to make a Presbyter that hath not received power to impose hands equal with a Bishop. For what doth Epiphanius avouch in these words, which Athanasius, Jerome, Chrysostom and Ambrose do not likewise avouch ? Or what saieth he more than the Primitive Church in her general and Provincial Councils decreed against Colluthus, Maximus and others ; and observed without alteration ever since the Apostles died ? If we reject this assertion of Epiphanius, that only Bishops should impose hands to ordain, and not Presbyters, we reject the whole church of Christ, which interpreted the Scriptures in this behalf as Epiphanius did ; and confirmed the very same resolution with the continual practice of all ages and countries where the Gospel hath been preached and believed. For by power to ordain, the christian world hath always distinguished bishops from Presbyters, as it is easy to be seen by all the monuments of antiquity, that are extant to this day, either of Councils, Histories or Fathers.
Epiphan. haeres. 75. contra Aerium. 1 Tertul. advers. Marcionem lib. 4. 2 August. de baptism. contra Donatist. li. 4. ca. 24.
Eusebius the first and best collector of ancient and Ecclesiastical monuments ( Egesippus and Clemens being lost ) deriveth the successions of bishops in the four principal churches of the world ; Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome and Alexandria, from the Apostles age unto his own time. By which, as by a line we may be directed to see what manner of Episcopal successions the rest of the Churches had ; & from whom the first origin of bishops descended. I
will set them down as it were in a Table even from the Apostles & their followers, unto the time they met in the great Council of Nicea, about 320. years after Christ ; and then examine more exactly whence they took their first beginning.
In the Church of
These Catalogues of the Bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome and Alexandria, Eusebius pursueth unto the beginning of his own time ; leaving off at 1 Hermon Bishop of Jerusalem, 1 Tyranus bishop of Antioch, 1 Marcellinus bishop of Rome, and 1 Peter Bishop of Alexandria ; the rest are supplied out of others, as in the See of Alexandria 2 Achilles, 2 Alexander, 3 Athanasius and 4 Peter out of Socrates. 5 Vitalius, 5 Philagonius and 6 Eustathius out of Theodoret, as also 7 Macarius for Jerusalem. In the See of Rome Marcellus and those that follow out of 7 Optatus and 8 Augustine. The four bishops of these Churches that met and sat in the Council of Nicea were Sylvester for Rome by Vitus and Vincentius his Presbyters, ( Sozomene saieth it was Julius, ) Alexander for Alexandria, Macarius for Jerusalem, and Eustathius for Antioch, as appeareth by their subscriptions unto the said Council. Now when these successions began, and who were the first Authors and ordainers of them, let us see what proof can be brought.1 Euseb. lib. 7. ca. 31. 2 Socrat. lib. 1. ca. 5. & 3 15. 4 lib. 4 ca. 20. 5 Theodor. lib. 1. ca. 3. & 6 7. 7 Optatus contra Parmenianum lib. 2. 8 August. epist. 165.
That James the Apostle was the first bishop of Jerusalem, Clemens, Egefippus, Eusebius, Jerome, Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Ambrose and Augustine confirm. Clemens in his first Book Hypotyposeon writeth thus, 1 Peter, James and John after the Assumption of our Saviour, though they were preferred by the Lord before the rest, yet did they not challenge that glory to themselves, but made James the Just, Bishop of Jerusalem. Eusebius, 2 The seat of James the Apostle which was the first that received the Bishopric of the Church of Jerusalem, from our Saviour himself and the Apostles, whom also the divine Scriptures call the Lord’s brother, is kept to this day, and evidently showed to all men by the brethren which have followed him in ordinary succession. Jerome, 3 James the Lord’s brother surnamed Just, straight after the Lord’s passion ordained Bishop of Jerusalem by the Apostles, wrote one only Epistle, which is ( one ) of the seven Catholic Epistles. Egesippus that lived near to the Apostles times in the fifth Book of his Commentaries speaking of James, saieth, 4 James the Lord’s brother surnamed Just, received the Church of Jerusalem ( in charge ) after the Apostles. Chrysostom, writing upon these words of the fifteenth Chapter of the Acts, After they held their peace, James answered, saieth ; 5 (
Hic erat Episcopus ecclesiae Hierosolymitanae, ) This James was Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. Epiphanius, 6 James called the Lord’s brother was the first Bishop in Jerusalem. Ambrose, 7 Paul saw James ( the Lord’s brother ) at Jerusalem, because he was made Bishop of that place by the Apostles. Augustine, 8 The Church of Jerusalem, James the Apostle was the first that governed by his episcopal office.
From James to Macarius that sat in the Council of Nicea, were forty bishops of Jerusalem, succeeding each other in a perpetual descent, and sitting each for his time in that chair, in which James the Apostle sat when he taught & governed the Church of Jerusalem. Their order and succession from James is collected by 9 Eusebius and 10 Epiphanius, out of elder & former Writers which now are perished by the injury of time.
haeres. 66. 7 Ambros. in ca. 1. epist. ad Galat. 8 August. contra Cresconium lib. 2. ca. 37. 9 Euseb. lib. 4. ca. 5. & lib. 5. ca. 12. 10 Epiphan.
The succession of Bishops at Antioch and Alexandria began in the Apostles time, as we find testified by ancient & incorrupt witnesses. Evodius was the first that succeeded at Antioch after Peter’s departure, of whom Ignatius that was next to him, writeth in this wise to the Church there. 1 Remember Evodius your blessed Pastor, which first received from the Apostles the chief oversight ( or regiment ) of us. So saith Eusebius, 2 Of those that were bishops at Antioch, Evodius was the first that was appointed, Ignatius the next, who not only 3 conversed with the Apostles, but also saw Christ in the flesh after his resurrection when he appeared to Peter & the rest of the disciples. His own words as Jerome allegeth them are, 4 I saw Christ in the flesh after his resurrection, when he came to Peter & those that were with Peter, & said to them, handle me and see. 5 A spirit hath not flesh & bones as you see me have. Of him Origen saith, 6 I mean Ignatius, the 2. bishop of Antioch after Peter. Jerome maketh 7 Ignatius to be the third bishop of the church of Antioch from Peter the Apostle, reckoning Peter for the first ; after whom succeeded Ignatius in the second place, as Eusebius writeth. 8 Ignatius so much spoken by most men to this present day, was the second that enjoyed the Bishopric in the succession of Peter at Antioch. Touching the Sees of Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, Gregory saith, 9 Peter advanced the seat ( of Rome ) where he thought good to rest, and end this present life. He also adorned the seat of Alexandria to which he sent his disciple, Mark the Evangelist. He fastened the seat ( of Antioch ) in which he rested seven years, though with purpose to depart. It is one seat, and of one Apostle, in which three Bishops now sit by divine authority.1 Ignat. epist. ad Antiochenos. 2 Euseb. l. 3. ca. 22. 3 Socrat. lib. 6. ca. 8. 4 Hierony. in Ignatio. 5 Ignat. in epist. ad Smyrneos. 6 Orig. in homil. 6. in Lucam. 7 Hiero. de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis in Ignatio. 8 Euseb. lib. 3. ca. 35. 9 Gregor. lib. 6. epist. 37.
For the first bishop of Alexandria, Jerome and Eusebius concur with Gregory ; 1 Mark the Interpreter of Peter the Apostle, & the first bishop of the church of Alexandria. Who dying 6. years before Peter, left his church and place unto Anianus, as Eusebius writeth ; 2 Nero being in the 8. year of his reign, Anianus a very godly man & every way admirable, first undertook the public administration of the Church of Alexandria, after Mark the Apostle & Evangelist. And as the succession at Antioch began in Evodius that was ordained by the Apostles ; so at Alexandria they continued the same course from Mark downward, by Jerome’s own confession. 3 At Alexandria from Mark the evangelist unto Heraclas & Dionysius, the Presbyters did always choose one of themselves, whom being placed in an higher degree they called ( their ) bishop.1 Hiero prooemium in commentarios super Matthaeum. 2 Euseb. lib. 2. ca. 24. 3 Hiero ad Evagrium.
Of the succession at Rome,
Irenaeus saith, 1 The blessed Apostles ( Peter and Paul ) founding and ordering the Church of Rome delivered the oversight, or charge of governing the Church to Linus. Anacletus succeeded him, and in the third place after the Apostles ; Clemens, which saw the Apostles themselves and conferred with them, undertook the Bishops office. Next to this Clement succeeded Evaristus, after Evaristus Alexander, and then in the sixth place from the Apostles was appointed Sixtus ; then Telesphorus, then Higinus, then Pius, after whom was Anicetus. Next to Anicetus succeeded Soter, & now ( when
Irenaeus wrote ) in the 12. place from the Apostles, Eleutherius hath the Bishopric. And likewise Optatus, 2 Thou canst not deny ( saith he to Parmenian ) but thou knowest that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was conferred first to Peter &c. In that chair, which was but one, sat first Peter, whom Linus succeeded, and after Linus Clemens, after Clemens Anacletus, after Anacletus Evaristus, then Sixtus, Thelesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius ; and so naming 20. more in order unto Sylvester in whose time the great Council of Nicea was kept, & after him five others unto Silicius ; (
qui hodie noster est socius, ) which at this day is our fellow Bishop. And so S. Austen, 3 If the row of Bishops succeeding one an other be to be considered, how much more certainly and indeed soundly do we reckon from Peter himself ? For next to Peter succeeded Linus, after Linus Clemens, after Clemens Anacletus, then Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Thelesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, and so 25. more unto Anastasius, next after Siricius.
Irenaeuslib. 3. ca. 3. 2 Optat. lib. 2. contra Parmenianum. 3 August. epist. 165.
Neither had only these 4. Sees their successions from the Apostles : the rest of the Churches dispersed throughout the world had the like derivation & continuation of bishops from the Apostles or Apostolic men, that these had.
Irenaeus taketh the example of the Church of Rome, 1 because it would be overlong in such a Volume to repeat the successions of all Churches. Otherwise he plainly saieth, 2 The true knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient state of the Church in the whole world, by the successions of Bishops, to whom ( the Apostles ) delivered the Church which is in every place.
Tertullian saieth as much ; and choketh all the heretics of his time with that challenge. 3 Let them show the origins of their Churches ; let them number the order of their Bishops so derived by succession from the beginning that their first Bishop had one of the Apostles or Apostolic men for his authour and antecessor. After this manner do the Apostolic Churches bring in their accounts ; as the Churches of Smyrna having Polycarpe placed there by S. John ; as the Church of Rome showeth Clement ordained by Peter ; as the rest of the Churches exhibit what branches they have of the Apostolic seed, even those that were ( first ) placed in the Bishop’s office by the Apostles. Austen likewise ; 4 (
Radix Christi- anae societatis per sedes Apostolorum & successiones Episcoporum, certa per orbem propagatione diffunditur, ) The root of Christian society is increased and extended throughout the world by the seats of the Apostles, and successions of Bishops.
Irenaeuslib. 3. ca. 3. 2
Irenaeuslib. 4. ca. 63. 3 Tertul. de
praescriptionibus advers. haereticos.4 August. epist. 42
The particulars are infinite, if we should reckon all the Churches, that received Bishops from the Apostles and their followers ; and the names of the men after so many hundred years, are somewhat buried in oblivion, and razed with the general rage of ignorance and barbarism, that hath seized on the best places, and perished the best writers before our times. 1 It is not possible ( saith Eusebius in his time ) by name to rehearse them all that were Pastours and Evangelists at the first succeeding after the Apostles in the Churches dispersed throughout the world : yet those which are extant, make proof sufficient for the matter in question ; to wit that Bishops were placed by the Apostles to govern as well the Presbyters as the people of each place, and succeeded the Apostles in imposing hands, which Presbyters did not.1 Euseb. li. 3. ca. 37
Of Timothy, Titus, Linus, Clemens and Dionysius named in the Scriptures ; Eusebius writeth thus, 1 Timotheus is recorded in the histories to be the first that had the Bishopric of Ephesus, as also Titus of the Churches in Crete. Linus, whom Paul in his second epistle to Timothy mentioneth as present with him at Rome, was the first that had the Bishopric of the Church of Rome after Peter. And Clemens that was appointed the third Bishop of the Church of Rome, is witnessed by Paul himself to have been his fellow labourer and helper. Dionysius also the Areopagite, who as S. Luke in the Acts noteth, was first converted by Paul’s sermon at Athens, was likewise the first Bishop of the Church of Athens, as another Dionysius a very ancient Pastour of the Church of Corinth writeth.1 Euseb. li. 3. ca. 4.
Of Caius, Archippus, Onesimus, Polycarpus and others, the like testimonies are extant in ancient writers. Origen saieth, 1 Our Elders have delivered us by tradition, that this Caius ( of whom Paul speaketh in the 16. chapter of his epistle to the Romans ) was Bishop of the Church of Thessalonica. Upon Paul’s words to the Colossians, 2 Say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it. Ambrose writeth ; 3 He warneth their overseer by themselves to be careful of their salvation. And because the epistle is written only for the people’s sake, therefore he directeth it to the Church and not to their ruler. For after Epaphras had instructed them, Archippus undertook the government of their Church. 4 Ignatius ( saieth Eusebius ) being at Smyrna where Polycarp was, wrote an epistle to the Church of Ephesus, mentioning Onesimus their Pastor. And of Polycarp he saith ; 5 There remained yet in Asia Polycarpus that lived with the Apostles, and received the Bishopric of the Church of Smyrna from those that themselves saw the Lord, and ministered unto him.
Irenaeus affirmeth as much ; 6 Polycarpus not only instructed by the Apostles, & conversant with many of them which saw the Lord, but also by the Apostles made Bishop of the Church of Smyrna ; , he always taught that which he learned of the Apostles, and delivered it unto the Church.
If Christian Churches and writers may deserve credit with us, we have the sincerest and eldest clearly witnessing and confirming unto us, that the Apostles when they saw their time, placed of their Schollers & followers, one in every Church ( which they planted ) to be Bishop and Pastor of the place ; and that the successions of Bishops so placed by the Apostles, endured in all the Apostolic Churches even to the times that they wrote and testified thus much. Neither speak they of these things by hearsay ; they lived with the Apostles Schollers ; & received from their mouths the things which they witness to posterity ; and their successors in most churches they same with their eyes, & conferred with them. Ireneus that in his youth was Polycarpus Scholler, saieth ; 1 We can reckon those which were ordained bishops in the churches by the Apostles and their successors even to our age. If the Apostles had known any hid mysteries, which they taught to the perfect secretly and apart from the rest, they would most of all have delivered those things to such as they committed the Churches unto. For they greatly desired to have them perfect and unreprovable in all things, whom they left to be their successours, delivering unto them their own place of teaching.
Egesippus lived at the same time somewhat elder than Irenaeus, and travelling to Rome under Anicetus, he conferred with 2 Primus Bishop of Corinth, and divers other Bishops as he went, and 2 found them all agreeing in one, and the same doctrine. In every succession, and in every City, ( saieth he as I travelled ) they kept that truth which the Law and the Prophets, and the Lord himself preached. And the Church of Corinth persisted in the right way unto the time of Primus Bishop of Corinth.
And showing how the Church of Jerusalem came first to be troubled with heresies, he saieth ; 3 After that James the Just ( who was both an Apostle, and the first Bishop of Jerusalem ) was martyred by the same kind of death that the Lord was, Simeon the son of Cleophas, uncle ( to James ) was made Bishop, whom all preferred for this respect, because he was another of Christ’s cousins ( as the former was ). That Church, men called a Virgin, for as yet she was not infected with false doctrine : but Thebulis because he was not made Bishop, was the first that corrupted her.
Dionysius equal in age with Egesippus and Bishop of Corinth straight after Primus, in his epistle written to the Athenians, putteth them in mind that 4 Dionysius the Areopagite converted to the faith by S. Paul, was their first Bishop, and Publius another of their Bishops, martyred by the persecuters of those times, & their Church restored by Quadratus ( another of the Apostles disciples ) that next succeeded Publius in the Bishopric.
Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived in the next age to Saint John the Apostle, reporteth out of former stories, that S. John 5 returning from his banishment to Ephesus, went to the Churches round about, being thereto requested, and in some places made Bishops, in other places chose such into the Clergy, as the holy Ghost signified unto him ;
and that even then the Bishop was
ἐπὶ πᾶσι καθεστῶς, set over and above all both Clergy and people. Methodius saieth, that the Apostle Peter directed 6 Eucharius, one of the 70. disciples, with Valerius and Maternus, to preach the Gospel in Germany and France ; and Eucharius planting a Church at Trevers, held the Bishopric of that City 23. years, and then dying 6 relinquished the chief dignity of the Church of Trevers to Valerius, who after fifteen years, left the Pastoral charge to Maternus. 6 After Maternus had held the regiment of preaching ( the word ) 40. years, one Auspicius sat in his place. And so along by lawful successions, many singular and excellent men for holiness and grace ; namely Serenus, Felix, Manscetus, Clemens, Moses, Martinus, Anastasius, Andreas, Rusticus, Fabricius, Fortunatus, Cassianus, Marcus, and many others.
Tertul. de praescriptionibus advers. haereticos. 7 Euseb. li. 7. ca. 5. 8 Ibidem ca. 14. 9 Ibidem ca. 32. 10 Ibid. li. 5. ca. 27. 11 Idem li. 8. ca. 13. 12 & li. 10. ca. 3. 13 Reu. 2. & 3. 14 Vide subscriptiones Concilii Niceni.
[ Our answer is easy and ready to all that you have brought ; first, the Bishops of the Primitive Church which succeeded one another in every place, were all one with Presbyters as Jerome telleth you ; and then we grant without exception all that you have alleged out of these ancient Fathers and Writers. Next, when they make any difference betwixt Bishops and Presbyters, as sometimes they do ; by Bishops they understand all Pastours and Ministers of the word and Sacraments, and by Presbyters they mean the lay Elders, which we seek to restore. Thirdly, if you could prove, that Bishops were above other Ministers of the word and Sacraments ; yet that superiority was nothing else, but a power to call the rest together, to propose matters in doubt unto them, and to ask their voices and consents, by which the Bishops of those times were directed, and from which they might by no means divert to their own wills and pleasures. ]
I know how easy & ready a thing it is with you to say what you list, if you may be trusted without any further trial ; but if it please you substantially to prove these things which you affirm, or but any one of them, you shall find it is a matter of greater difficulty and longer study than you take it for. Did you plead before the poorest Jury that is, for earthly trifles, they would not credit your word without some witness ; and in matters of religion that touch the peace & safety of the whole Church of Christ, do you look your voluntary should be received without all authority or testimony to warrant it ? If your folly be such as to expect so much at other men’s hands, their simplicity is not such as to yield it. Indeed to my conceiving, the sum of your answer is very like the form of your discipline, for neither of them hath any proof, possibility, nor coherency.
To prove the Bishops calling to be different from the Presbyters, that yet helped in the word and Sacraments ; I show that Bishops ordained ministers, which Presbyters by the judgment and assertion of the Primitive Church might not do ; and that in every Church there were or might be many Presbyters according to the necessity of the place ; but no more than one Bishop in every Church did or might succeed the Apostles in their chairs. Hence I conclude that Bishops ever since the Apostles times, were distinguished from those Presbyters that assisted the Pastour of each place in the word and Sacraments. You answer that either Bishops were all one with Presbyters ; or if there were any difference betwixt them, Presbyters then were lay Elders. In which words you close not only a monstrous falsity, but a manifest contrariety. For in effect you say, Presbyters were Bishops, and no Bishops ; Presbyters were no Lay men, and yet Lay men. If Presbyters were Bishops, they were no Lay Elders ; if they were Lay Elders, they were no Bishops. You must therefore choose the one, and refuse the other as false and repugnant to the former. Take which you will, the choice must be yours, what you will answer.
[ The Bishops which succeeded the Apostles were the Pastors and ministers of every parish ; the Presbyters were the Lay Elders, that together with the Bishop governed the Church in common. ] Could you make any proof for lay Elders, either in Scriptures or Fathers ; you had someshow to mistake Presbyters for lay Elders ; but I have already perused the weakeness of your guesses ; and withal made just and full proof for the contrary ; that the Primitive Church of Christ had no Presbyters, but ministers of the word and Sacraments. If you be loath to turn back to the place, hear what the great African Council saieth, wherein sat besides S. Augustine, 216. Bishops. 1 In the former Council, saieth Aurelius, We thought meet that these three degrees tied to a kind of continency by reason of their consecration, I mean Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, (
ὡς πρέπει ὁσίοις ἐπισκόποις καὶ ἱερεῦσι Θεοῦ, καὶ λευἷταις, καὶ ὑπουργοῦσι θείοις καθιερώμασιν, 0 as becometh Bishops & Priests of God & Levites, & serviters about the divine Sacraments, should be continent in all things. All the Bishops answered, we like well that all which stand or serve at the altar should be continent.
Then Presbyters were consecrated, and Priests to God, and approached to the altar, and ministered the divine Sacraments. The Imperial laws say as much ; 2 Touching the most reverend Presbyters and Deacons, if they be found to give false evidence in a pecuniary cause ; it shall suffice for them instead of whipping to be three years separated from the sacred ministry : but if in criminal causes they bear false witness, (
Clero nudatos legitimis poenis sub di praecipimus, ) we command them to be degraded of their Clergy, and subjected to the penalties of the law.
Then Presbyters in the Primitive Church were both of the Clergy and sacred ministry, as the very laws of the Roman Empire do testify. Jerome, on whose words you so much depend, saieth, 3 All these places prove, that in ancient times, Presbyters and Bishops were all one.
And again, 4 The Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, ought greatly to provide that they excell all the people which are under them, in conversation and doctrine ; because it vehemently destroyeth the Church of Christ to have the Lay men better than the Clergy men.
And Augustine, 5 Whosoever either Bishop, Presbyter or Lay man, doth declare how eternal life may be gotten, he is worthily called the messenger of God.
Then if Bishops were no Lay men, no more were Presbyters. You must therefore send your lay Elders to the Newfoundland ; the Christian world never heard of any such ecclesiastical Governours, before some men in our age began to set that fancy on foot.
As for Presbyters that were Clergy men and ministers of the word, we show you both by the Scriptures and Histories, they were many in one Church, and yet was there in every Church and City, but one of them that succeeded the Apostles, as Pastour of the place, with power to impose hands for the ordaining of Presbyters and Deacons. Those successours to the Apostles, the Church of Christ even from the Apostles age, hath distinguished from other Presbyters by the two proper marks of episcopal power and function ; I mean Succession & Ordination ; and called them bishops. Thus much is mainly proved unto you by all those Apostolic Churches that had many Presbyters as helpers in the word, and never but one Bishop that succeeded in the Apostolic chair. At Alexandria this succession began from Mark the Evangelist, and first Bishop of that church, after whose death ( Peter and Paul yet living ) Anianus was elected by the Presbyters there, and placed in an higher degree over the Presbyters, and called a Bishop. They be Jerome’s own words that I press you with, 1 At Alexandria from Mark the Evangelist, the Presbyters always electing one of themselves, & placing him in an higher degree, called him a Bishop. The like he saieth was done in the whole world, 2 After every man began to take those, whom he baptized, to be his own and not Christ’s ; it was decreed in the whole world, that one of the Presbyters should be chosen and set above the rest, to whom the whole, or chief care of the Church should pertain. There were many Presbyters in every Church, and out of them one was chosen, and set above the rest, to repress schisms. He doth not say, that every place had one Presbyter and no more, which was called a Bishop, but one chosen out of the Presbyters, which were many, was placed in every Church throughout the world, not over the flock only, but over the rest of the Presbyters also, which preached and baptized as well as he, and consequently were ministers of the word and Sacraments, and no lay Elders as you dream.1 Hiero. ad Evagrium. 2 Hiero. in 1. ca. epist. ad Titum.
Wherefore to tell us, that the Bishops which succeeded the Apostles in their chairs, were the Presbyters and ministers of every parish, is a very jest. Not only S. Jerome’s words, but all the Apostolic Churches and ancient stories most plainly convince the contrary. At Antioch even as at Alexandria, there were from the Apostles times a number of Presbyters and labourers in the word ; yet the succession continued always in one & no more. Ignatius the next bishop of Antioch after Evodius, who received the first charge of that Church from the Apostles hands, when he was carried prisoner to Rome, writeth unto the Church of Antioch, willing the 1 Laity to obey the Presbyters and Deacons : and adding, 1 you Presbyters feed the flock that is with you, till God show
τὸν μέλλοντα ἄρχειν, who shall be your Ruler or Pastour after my death.
The like he doth to the Churches of Trallis, Magnesia, Tarsus, Philippos, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and Ephesus, in every of his epistles to them, remembering the Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, that guided them, and naming Polycarpus, Onesimus, Demas, Vitalis and Polybius as Bishops of Smyrna, Ephesus, Magnesia, Philippos and Trallis, apart from the Presbyters of the very same Churches : yea, what Church of account was there in Christendom, that had not at one and the same time, both Bishops and Presbyters. 2
Irenaeus was Presbyter under Pothymus Bishop of Lyons. At Antioch was Geminus under Zebenus, and Malchion under Paulus Samosatenus, and 2 Diodorus, 3 Heliodorus, 3 Theodorus, 3 Isaac, 3 Mochinus and infinite others under the Bishops of that See. So at Alexandria were 2 Pantenus, 2 Clemens and 2 Origen Presbyters under Serapion, Asclepiades, and Demetrius Bishops. And so Dionysius under Heraclas, and Pierius under Theonas. And under the foresaid 4 Dionysius when he was Bishop of Alexandria, were 4 Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, Lucius, Faustinus and Aquila Presbyters, 5 Tertullian, 5 Cyprian and 5 Cecilius were Presbyters in the Church of Carthage. Saint Augustine was a Presbyter under 6 Valerius Bishop of Hippo, and under Augustine was 7 Eradius that succeeded him and 7 other more. Chrysostom was first Presbyter under Flavianus Bishop of Antioch, and after made Bishop of Constantinople. Of Vigilantius a Presbyter in Spain, Jerome saieth ; 8 I marvel the Bishop in whose charge ( or Diocese ) he is reported to be a Presbyter, doth not break that unprofitable vessel with the Apostolic rod, even with an iron rod. Of Jerome S. Austen saith, 9 Although by the names of honor which now have prevailed in the use of the church, a Bishop’s place be greater than a Presbyter’s, yet in many points Augustine is less than Jerome. The Presbyteries of 10
Caesarea, 11 Edissa, 12 Massilia, 12 Vienna, 12 Milan, & of infinite other churches might be likewise proved, but why should I stand so long in a case as clear as sun-shine to those that have any tast of learning or use of reading. They can light on no ancient Council nor history of the Church, but they shall find the Clergy of each City distinct from the Bishop, & subject unto the Bishop. Yea, no Presbyter might depart from the Church where he was ordained, without the consent of his Bishop, nor be received in another Church by the Bishop there, without the liking & license of the Bishop whose Presbyter he was first, as appeareth by the Councils of Nicea, can. 15. & 16. Of Antioch, can. 3. Of Chalcedon, can. 8. Of Africa, ca. 55. Neither might any man be made a Bishop by the Canons, except he were first a Presbyter, and so did 13 rise by every degree unto the height of the Bishop’s calling. All which, & a thousand other rules and Canons do exquisitly prove, that every City had besides their Bishop and under their Bishop, as well Presbyters as other Clergy men ; and so without all contradiction Presbyters were distinct from Bishops, and a degree beneath Bishops, wheresoever they be reckoned in order together as Deacons, Presbyters, and Bishops.
[ But anciently, as Jerome saith, Presbyters and Bishops were all one. ] Those names did not differ at first by reason the Episcopal power and honour was in the Apostles and Evangelists ; but when those succeeded that were neither Apostles nor Evangelists, then began they to be called Bishops. 1 At the first ( saieth Theodoret ) they called the same men both Bishops and Presbyters ; and those that are now called Bishops, they named Apostles. In process of time they left the name of Apostle to those that were indeed Apostles, & they called them Bishops whom before they termed Apostles. And so Ambrose, 2 The Apostles are now the Bishops. After the Bishop he is greatest, that is said to prophecy, which now may be the order of Presbyters. Jerome commenting upon these words of David, ( Thy children shall be instead of thy fathers, ) saieth, 3 The Apostles, O Church, were thy fathers, because they begat thee ; and now for that they be departed this world, thou hast in their stead children, which are the Bishops created by thyself. For they are now thy because thou art governed by them. S. Augustine upon the same words, saith in like manner, 4 The Apostles begat thee, they are thy . Is the Church forsaken by their departure ? God forbid. Instead of thy fathers, are children borne unto thee. The Apostles were fathers ; instead of the Apostles, Bishops are appointed. Those the Church calleth fathers, yet those she begat, and those she placeth in the seats of her fathers.1 Theodoret. in ca. 3. 1. epist. ad Tim.
Eos autem, qui nunc vocantur Episcopi nominabant Apostolos2 Ambros. in 4. ca. epist. ad Ephesios.
Apostoli sunt Episcopi3 Hiero. in Psalmum. 44. 4 August. in Psal. 44. 1 August. in Psal. 44. 2 Hiero. in Psal. 44.
And because you shroud your opinion under the shadow of S. Jerome and S. Austen, hear what account they make of this position, that by God’s law there should be no difference betwixt Presbyters and Bishops. Jerome rehearsing these words out of John of Jerusalem’s letters, 1 There is no such great difference betwixt a Bishop and a Presbyter, their dignity is all one, maketh this answer. 1 (
Hoc satis imperite : in portu ut dicitur naufragium, ) This is ignorantly enough spoken ; a shipwreck in the haven, as they say ; that is, an errour in the first entrance. Elsewhere instructing Marcella against the fantastical novelties of the Montanists, and showing wherein Montanus dissented from the Catholic Church, Jerome saieth, 2 With us the Bishops have the place of the Apostles ; with them a Bishop is the third degree, and so the Bishops are tumbled in the third, that is, almost the lowest place.
And giving his censure of this, and the rest of Montanus conceits, he saieth, 2 These things need no refutation, to express their perfidiousness is enough to overthrow it. S. Augustine maketh this report of Aerius, 3 The Aerians have their name from one Aerius, who being a Presbyter, is said to have taken displeasure that he could not be made a Bishop, and falling into the Arian heresy, added certain opinions of his own, to wit, 3 that a Presbyter should not be distinguished from a Bishop by any kind of difference.
Jerome saith it is a shipwreck ; Austen saith it is Aerianism, to say that there should be no difference betwixt Presbyters and Bishops.
Apud nos Apostolorum locum Episcopi tenent, apud eos Episcopus tertius est3 August. de haresibus hares. 53. 3 Ibid.
Presbyterum ab Episcopo nulla differentia debere discerni
[ Austen therein followed the report of Epiphanius, and enquired no further into the reason of Aerius speech. ] For matters of fact what particular opinions heretics held, Austen haply might trust Epiphanius or Philastrius that wrote before him of the same argument ; but whether their opinions were repugnant to the doctrine of the Church or no, S. Austen had learning & judgment enough to discern that matter. He is inexcusable if contrary to his own knowledge & conscience he pronounce a truth to be an error upon another man’s credit. And therefore never make S. Austen a pupil under age, miscarried with Epiphanius false information. He concurred in judgment with Epiphanius & Philastrius, and repelled that assertion of Aerius as repugnant to the doctrine and use of the whole church. And that confirmeth Epiphanius opinion touching Aerius positions, which were not Christian & Catholic, as some men in our days begin to maintain, but rather arrogant & erronious. Indeed Epiphanius is somewhat vehement & rejecteth Aerius assertion in this very point, 1 as (
ἀφροσύνης ἔμπλεων, ἐρεχελίαν, πλάνην, καὶ πγῶ. σιν ὀυ μικρὰν τοῦ παρασαλευομένου ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου, ) full of folly, nugacity, error, & a foul fall of one subverted by the devil. S. Austen putteth him and his followers in the rank of false teachers, for that besides the Arian heresy, into which he fell, he added certain positions of his own against fasting upon set days, keeping of Easter, rehearsing the names of the dead at the Lord’s table, & distinguishing of Bishops from Presbyters ; which things the whole Church of Christ observed, & no man ever impeached but Aerius and his Disciples.
Epiphanius contra Aerium haeres. 75.
[ Think you, that Aerius was worthily condemned by Epiphanius for denying prayer for the dead, & not rather that Epiphanius himself erred in that point ? ] I distinguish the public actions of the whole primitive church from the private constructions of this or that father. The church had her set days of fasting, celebrated the memorial of Christ’s resurrection, gave thanks to God in her open prayers at the Lord’s table for her martyrs & others that died either constantly for the christian faith, or comfortably in it. She likewise put a difference betwixt her Bishops and Presbyters. Which of these things can you challenge as unchristian and unlawful ? Or what warrant had Aerius to reprove the whole church of God for so doing ? Just as much as you have now to defend him, which is none at all.
[ He reproved praying and not thanksgiving for the dead. ] He reproved the naming of the dead, and would needs know to what end they rehearsed 1
ὀνόματα τεθνεώτων, the names of the dead. To whom Epiphanius answereth, As for the repeating of the names of the dead, what can be better, or more opportune, than that they which are yet behind in this world, believe the deceased live, and are not extinguished, but are and live with God, and as the divine doctrine hath taught, that they which pray have hope of their brethren absent as in a long voyage from them ? We also make mention of the just, as of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Bishops, and of all sorts, to separate the Lord Jesus from the order of men, and to give him his due honour and worship.
Thus far Epiphanius speaketh soundly, and giveth good reasons, why the Church named her dead, even her hope of their welfare, and faith of their life with God ; and separation of all men from the Lord Jesus the Redeemer and Saviour of the world. Chrysostom’s liturgy showeth what commemoration of the dead was used in the Greek Church ; 2 We offer this reasonable service ( that is, the Eucharist of praise and thanksgiving ) unto thee, O Lord, for all that are at rest in the faith of Christ, even for the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Bishops, Martyrs, Confessours, and every soul initiated in the faith : But chiefly for the most holy, undefiled, and most blessed virgin Mary.
He that thinketh all the Patriarchs, Prophets, Martyrs, Apostles, and the virgin Mary were in Purgatory, had need of purgation himself to be eased of his melancholy ; yet for these, and specially for the blessed virgin, the Church offered her prayers and sacrifice to God. It is therefore most evident, the church meant the sacrifice of thanksgiving, howsoever Epiphanius, Austen, and some others to extend the prayers of the Church to all Christians departed, doubtfully suppose their damnation might be mitigated, though their state could not be altered. But these private speculations were neither comprised in the prayers of the church, nor confirmed by them : and for that cause, Aerius is justly traduced as franticly impugning the religious and wholesome customs of the primitive & catholic Church ; of which Saint Austen saith ; 3 (
Si quid tota hodie per orbem frequentat Ecclesia, hoc quin ita faciendum sit disputare, insolentissimae insaniae est, ) If the whole Church throughout the world at this day observe anything, to reason for the reversing of it, is most insolent madness.
Epiphanius haeres. 75. 2 Liturgia Chrysost. 3 August. epist. 118. 1 Ex actis Synodi Chalcedonens. de Photio & Eustathio.
You may do well to make more account of the Martyrs and Fathers that were in the Primitive Church, lest if you condemn all men besides yourselves, posterity condemn you as void of all sincerity & sobriety. For my part, what I find generally received in the first Church of Christ, I will see it strongly refuted before I will forsake it. God forbid I should think there was never Church nor faith on the face of the earth since the Apostles times before this miserable age, wherein though I acknowledge the great blessing of God restoring us to the truth of his Gospel far above our deserts, yet I cannot but lament the dangerous factions, eager dissentions, and heady contempts, whereby the Church of God is almost rent in sunder, while every man will have his device take place, and when they want proofs they fall to reproches.
[ We make that account of the primitive Church, that Calvin and other learned men before us have done. ] You do not. No learned men of any age have showed themselves like to the spiteful & disdainful humors of our times. And of all others you do Calvin wrong ; who though in some things he dissented from the Fathers of the Primitive Church in expounding some places that are alleged for this new discipline, yet gravely & wisely he giveth them that honor and witness which is due unto them. His words treating of this very point are these ; 1 It shall be profitable for us, in these matters of discipline to review the form of the ancient ( or primitive ) Church, the which will set before our eyes the image of the divine ordinance. For though the Bishops of those times made many Canons, in which they seem to decree more than is expressed in the sacred Scriptures ; yet with such wariness did they proportion their whole regiment to that only rule of God’s word, that you may easily see, they had almost nothing in their discipline different from the word of God. I could wish that such as seem to reverence so much his name, would in this behalf follow his steps. He declared himself to bear a right Christian regard to the Church of Christ before him ; and therefore is worthy with all posterity to be had in like reverend account, though he were deceived in some things, even as Augustine and other Fathers before him were. The wisdom of God will have no man come near the perfection of the Apostles, and therefore no blemish to him that wrote so much as he did, to be somewhat overseen in Lay Elders, and other points of discipline ; being so busied as he was with weighty matters of doctrine, and interpreting the whole Scriptures.1 Calvinus Christianarum institutionum, li. 4. ca. 4.
[ But such as have had better leisure to examine this matter since his death, persist still in the same opinion that he did. ] But not in the same moderation ; they would else not charge the primitive church of Christ with inventing and upholding a human bishop that is devised by man, and not allowed by God : whereas Calvin granteth the ancient regiment of bishops was agreeable to the word of God, and rule of the sacred Scriptures. 1 If we look into the thing itself ( he meaneth the government of the Primitive Church ) we shall find the ancient Bishops never intended to frame any other form of governing the Church, than that which God in his word prescribed. Now what kind of government that was, you shall hear his own confession in the same place ; and thereby perceive that many of the points, which I have before proved, are so sound and sure, that no man learned can with any truth resist them. 2 Every City had a College of Presbyters, which were Pastours and Teachers. For they all had the function of teaching, exhorting, and reproving in the Congregation, which Paul enjoineth unto Bishops. To whom the office of teaching was allotted, they were all called Presbyters. These in every City chose one of their own number, to whom they gave the special title of a Bishop, lest by an equality as is usually found, divisions should arise. To every City was appointed a certain region, which took their Presbyters from the City, and was counted part of the body of that Church. First then Presbyteries consisted of Pastours and Teachers, and were not had but in Cities. Next, lest equality should breed confusion, over these Presbyters in each City as well as over the flock, was a bishop, who in Dignity and Authority was above them. Thirdly, every Bishop had his region or Diocese besides his City, and the Presbyters that were designed for such Country Parishes as were within his Circuit, were fet from the City, and reputed to be of the body of the Episcopal Church. And all these things not only were in the Primitive Church, as I have already proved, but they were also agreeable to the word of God, as Calvin himself confesseth.1 Calvin. Institutionum lib. 4. ca. 4. § 4. 2 Calvin. Institution. li. 4. ca. 4. § 2
[ You should take all. He telleth you that a Bishop should have no dominion over his brethren, but as a Consul in the Senate, should propose matters, ask voices, go before others in advising, warning, exhorting, and moderate the whole action with his authority, and execute that which is decreed by common consent. And this kind of regiment he saieth, the Fathers acknowledge first entered humano consensu, by the consent of men according to the necessity of the times, though it were very ancient, as at Alexandria ever since Mark the Evangelist. ] I honour Calvin for his wonderful gifts and pains in the Church of God, and could easily be enduced to embrace his judgment, were it not, that in this case a manifest truth confirmed by the Scriptures, Fathers, and by himself, enforceth me to the contrary. Jerome’s words I have examined before ; they do not import that bishops first began by human device and policy. Ignatius,
Irenaeus, Egesippus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Dionysius of Corinth, Origen, Tertullian, Eusebius, Methodius, and Jerome himself affirm the first bishops were made in the Apostles times, and by the Apostles hands. Saint John in his Revelation writeth to the seven Pastours or chief moderatours of the seven Churches in Asia. While Saint John lived, as Eusebius recordeth, there succeeded at Antioch, 1 Ignatius after 1 Evodius ; at Alexandria, 1 Abilius after 1 Amianus ; at Rome, 1 Clemens after 1 Anacletus and 1 Linus ; at Jerusalem, 1 Simeon after 1 James. Yea, Saint John with his own hands made 2 Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, as
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, and Jerome affirm ; and that next after 3 Eucharius, as Socrates noteth. He did the like in many 4 other places, as Clemens Alexandrinus writeth. I can by no means forsake so many ancient and assured witnesses, whereof some lived with Polycarp, and were his Schollers, to follow the mistaking of a few words in Jerome by whomsoever. Yea Calvin himself saith, 5 It is not man’s device, but the very ordinance of God, that we assign to every man his Church. Paul himself mentioneth Archippus Bishop of Colossus.
Irenaeusli. 3 ca. 3. 2 Tertul. de
praescript. adver. haeretic.2 Hier. in Ignatio. 3 Socrates lib. 5. ca. 22. 4 Apud Euseb. lib. 3. ca. 3. 5 Calvin Institutionum lib. 4. ca. 3. § 7.
[ That is, Pastour of Colossus ; and so we grant each Church ought by God’s law to have a Pastour. ] We must ask further, whether by God’s law each Church must have one or many ? If one, we have our desire ; if many, there must yet be one chief to avoid confusion. 1 Equality, as Calvin noteth, breedeth factions. Jerome saith, 2 To suppress the seeds of dissention, one was set above the rest ; otherwise there would be 3 as many schisms as there be Priests. Beza maketh it an essential and perpetual part of God’s ordinance, to have one chief in each Presbytery. His words are ; 4 This was essential in the matter we have in hand, that by God’s ordinance which must always endure, it hath been, is, and shall be needful, that in the Presbytery, one chief in place and dignity should moderate and rule every action with that right which is allowed him by God’s law. And in this he saieth right. For a multitude ungoverned must needs be confused, which should be far from the Church of God ; and government there can be none, where all are equal. When the shepherds lead into divers pastures, whom shall the sheep follow ? When sundry lords make sundry laws, which shall the subject obey ? Sure, if no man can serve two masters, no Church can endure two Pastours. While they consent they have but one mind though many men ; when they dissent, which in all persons is casual, and in all places, usual ; then will there be as many sides, as there be leaders. You were as good set two heads on one body, as two chief rulers over one company. If you confess there must by God’s law be one chief Pastour in one church ; then the chief Pastour of each City, is the bishop which we seek for ; and he by your own positions is authorized as Pastour of the place by God’s ordinance.1 Calvin. Institut. lib. 4. ca 4. 2 Hierony. ad Evagrium. 3 & contra Luciferianos. 4 In responsio ad tractat. de ministrorum evangelii gradibus, ca. 23. fol. 153.
[ We grant the name of a Bishop, and regiment of a Pastor are confirmed by the holy Ghost ; but you yield more to your chief Pastours and Bishops, than the word of God alloweth them. As namely you suffer them to continue for life, where they should govern but for a month or a week ; you allot them Dioceses, which should be but parishes ; you give them not only a distinction from Presbyters, but a jurisdiction over Presbyters, who should be all one with Presbyters, and subject to the most voices of the Presbyters ; all which things we say, are against the Scriptures. ] You frame Churches to your fancies, and then you straightway think the Scriptures do answer your devices. If we give Bishops anything, which the ancient and Catholic Church of Christ did not first give them ; in God’s name spare us not, let the world know it : but if we prefer the universal judgment of the Primitive Church in expounding the Scriptures touching the power and function of bishops, before your particular and late dreams ; you must not blame us. They were nearer the Apostles times and likelier to understand the Apostles meanings than you, that come after fifteen hundred years with a new plot of Church government never heard of before. All the churches of Christ throughout the world could not at one time join in one and the selfsame kind of government, had it not been delivered and settled by the Apostles and their Schollers that converted the world. So many thousand Martyrs and Saints that lived with the Apostles would never consent to alter the Apostles discipline, which was once received in the Church, without the Apostles warrant. Wherefore we construe the Apostles writings by their doings ; you measure the Scriptures after your own humours. Whether of us twain is most likely to hit the truth ?
As for your repining at the things which we give to bishops ; we greatly regard it not, so long as the Scriptures do not contradict them ; we smile rather at your devices, which say that a bishop should govern for a week, and then change, and give place to the next Presbyter for another week ; and so round by course to all the Presbyters. What Scripture confirmeth that circular and weekly regiment of yours ? By what authority do you give it the name of a divine institution, when it is a mere imagination of yours without proof or truth ? Show one example or authority for it in the new Testament, and take the cause.
[ 1 Succession by course was ordained by God after the example of the Priests of Aaron. ] Did the sons of Aaron lose their Priesthood, when their courses were ended ? [ No, but they served in the Temple by course ; and so were Bishops appointed by God’s ordinance to guide the Presbytery. ] Is this all the ground you have, upon this slender and single similitude to make God’s ordinance what please you ? If such reasons may serve, we can sooner conclude the perpetual function of bishops than you can the weekly. For not only the high Priest kept his honour during his life, but likewise every Priest that was chief of his order. Indeed their courses being ended, they departed home, but they lost not their dignity. But what roving is this in matters of weight ? Will any wise men be moved with such guesses ? Make us good proof out of the Scriptures ; or leave tying God’s ordinance to your appetites.1 De Ministrorum Evangelii gradibus cap. 23. fol. 156.
[ Ambrose is the man that affirmeth it. ] If you come once to Fathers, I hope we have ten to one, that affirm otherwise. If Ambrose did say so, we could not believe him against all the rest of the Fathers, yea, and against the Scriptures themselves, election of Bishops being prescribed by Paul to Timothy and Titus, and not succession in order ; but I deny that Ambrose saith any such thing. [ He saieth the next in order succeeded. ] He nameth neither change nor course. It is your own device, it is no part of Ambrose’s meaning. Anianus the next after Mark, that was Bishop of Alexandria six years before Peter and Paul were put to death, was he made by order or by election ? Jerome saith expressly, 1 (
A Marco Evangelista Presbyteri semper unum ex se electum, ) they of Alexandria ever since Mark the Evangelist did always choose their Bishop, he never succeeded in order. Neither did Anianus govern for a week or a year, he sat Bishop there 2 two and twenty years as Eusebius writeth ; and Abilius the next that was chosen after his death sat 3 thirteen years more before he died, and then succeeded Cerdo, and the rest in their times all chosen, and all sitting in the Pastoral chair so long as they lived. The like you may see in the first Bishops of Rome who kept the Episcopal chair during life, and not by course. 4 Linus sat twelve years, 5 Anacletus twelve, 6 Clemens nine. Saint John the Apostle living and ordering the whole Church, while the three first Bishops of Rome and of Alexandria succeeded by election, and governed without changing for the term of their lives. Wherefore it is evident, this upstart fancy is far from God’s ordinance.
If you trust not me, mark how your own friends, I will not say yourselves do cross and confute your own inventions. You say, It is God’s disposition, that the
προεστὼς or chief of your Presbytery should go by course ; and that order you call Divine : they say it is accidental ; and no part of God’s ordinance. 1 (
Accidentale fuit quod Presbyteri in hac , ) It was that the Presbyters did in this chiefdom at the first beginning succeed one another by course.
You tell us, the electing one to continue chief of the Presbytery was a human order ; but they assure us that election in all sacred functions is the commandement of God, and may not be altered. 2 The commandement of election is one thing, which must be observed, not only in Deacons, but in all sacred functions ; the manner of election is another thing.
The precept cannot be immutable, unless it be divine and Apostolic ; others have no such power to command. Now for my learning I would fain know ; this ruling by course, if it be divine, how is it accidental ? if it be accidental, how is it divine ? And the electing of a President or Bishop, if it be human, how is it commanded ? if it be commanded, how is it human ? This is the way to call sweet sour, and sour sweet, to make light darkness, and darkness to be light. I must see better coherence than I do, before I call this a divine Discipline.
προστασίᾳ alij alijs per vices initio succedebant
[ You mistake us. We say it is God’s ordinance for a Pastour to govern the College of Lay Elders ; but for one chief to govern the College of Pastours, we hold is man’s invention. ] Would God you did not mistake yourselves. Your Presbyteries must consist either of lay men alone, or of clergy men only, or of both indifferently. If of Lay Elders only, who shall succeed the Pastour in the ruling thereof when his course is ended, for example as you say, when his week is out ? His Presidentship must be perpetual which by your rules is against God’s ordinance, unles you will have the lay Elders in course to do pastoral duties, & rule pastor & all, which is more absurd and more against God’s Law than the former. Will you mix your Presbyteries of both ? then yet by God’s law as yourselves enforce it, one Pastor must be chief of the rest of the Pastors, and if by the Scriptures his superiority must be perpetual ; as after his election it must be ; what differeth this chief Pastour for his life from a bishop ? You would limit his government to a week or a month ; but where doth Paul so ? Show us that rule in Scripture or Father, and set up your Lay Presbyteries. If not, you walk in the wildernesses of your own fancies, & you would prescribe us rules of your own making in place of God’s ordinance ; which is dangerous to yourselves, and injurious to others, if it be not presumptuous against God.
Will you have none chief ? Then breed you confusion, and lay the Church open to be torn in pieces with every dissention. Besides yourselves avouch it is an essential and perpetual point of God’s ordinance to have one chief over the Presbytery. These be the brambles and briars of your discipline, which force you to say and unsay with a breath. But we take your assertion as good against yourselves, and thence we frame you this argument. It is an essential and perpetual part of God’s ordinance, that one should be chief over the Presbytery. But the Presbyteries of each Church and City, ( where the Apostles preached ) consisted of Clergy men and Preachers. I hope then it is God’s ordinance to have one chief over the Preachers and Labourers in each Church. And if election be God’s commandement, as you also confess, and consequently the Electee once lawfully placed must not be removed without just and apparent defects ; I trust the chief Governour of the Preachers and Presbyters of each Church, must continue while he liveth and ruleth well. For as he was chosen for his worthiness, so may he not be deprived till he prove unworthy. Now a chief Ruler or Pastour over the people and Presbyters of each City, elected by God’s commandement to continue that charge so long as he doeth his duty, commeth as near to the bishop’s calling which we maintain, as your head to that which is above your shoulders.
If you thwart us with Lay Elders ; we have this fair Supersedeas for them. First prove them, then place them where you will. If you talk of going round by course ; it is the order of good fellows at a feast ; it was never the order of governing in the Church of Christ. The Priests of the old Law were after a time eased of their pains, but never changed their prerogatives. If you say they differ not in degree, but in honour and dignity from the rest, I have already proved that singularity in succeeding the Apostles, and necessity in ordaining, distinguish them from Presbyters. If you quarrel with their jurisdiction and dioceses, the place now serveth to discuss those things, forsomuch as we find their function was delivered them by the Apostles, and is testified in the Scriptures.
The fatherly power and Pastoral care of Bishops over Presbyters and others in their Churches and Dioceses.
I Take it to be a matter out of question, confirmed by the Scriptures, and confessed by the old and new Writers, that the Son of God willed S. John the Apostle in his Revelation to write to the seven chief Pastours of the seven Churches of Asia, calling them by the name of Angels. 1 By the divine voice, saith Austen, the Ruler of the Church ( of Ephesus ) is praised under the name of an Angel. 2 Angels he calleth Bishops, saith Ambrose, as we learn in the Revelation of John. 3 Angels he calleth those that be Rulers of the Churches, saith Jerome, even as Malachi the Prophet doth witness the Priest to be an Angel. And Gregory, 4 The Preachers in the Scriptures are sometimes called Angels, as the Prophet saith, the 5 lips of the Priest should keep knowledge, and they should ask the Law at his mouth ; for he is the Angel ( or Messenger ) of the Lord of hosts.
The new Writers with one consent acknowledge the same. 6 The Angels, saieth Bullinger, are the Ambassadours of God, even the Pastours of the Churches. 7 The heavenly letter is directed to the Angel of the church of Smyrna, that is to the Pastor. Now the histories witness that Angel & Pastor of the church of Smyrna to have been Polycarp ordained Bishop ( there ) by the Apostles themselves, I mean by S. John. He was made bishop of Smyrna 13. years before the Revelation ( of John ) was written. Marlorat., 8 John beginneth with the Church of Ephesus for the celebrity of the place ; and speaketh not to the people but to the Prince ( or chief ) of the Clergy, even the bishop. Seb. Meyer., 9 To the Angel of the Church of Sardis. Amongst the bishops of this church Melito was renowned, a man both learned and godly ; but what predecessors or successors he had in the ministry of the church, is not recorded. Beza saith, 10 (
Angelo : idest
προεστὼτι, ) To the Angel, that is, to the chief President, who should have the first warning of these things, and from him the rest of his Colleagues and the whole Church.
By the person that speaketh unto the Pastours of those seven Churches, and name which he giveth them, I collect their vocation was not only confirmed by the Lord himself, but their commission expressed. He speaketh that hath best right to appoint what pastors he would have to guide his flock, til he come to judgement : even Christ Jesus the prince of Pastors. The name that he giveth them showeth their power and charge to be authorized & delivered them from God. For an Angel is God’s messenger ; and consequently these seven, each in his several charge and city are willed to reform the errors & abuses of their Churches, that is, both of Presbyters and people. They are warned, at whose hands it shall be required ; and by him that shall sit Judge to take account of their doings. Hence I infer, first their preeminence above their helpers and coadjutors in the same Churches is warranted to be God’s ordinance : Next, they are God’s Messengers to reprove and redress things amiss in their Churches, be they Presbyters or people, that be offendours. Which of these two can you refuse ? Shall they be Angels, and not allowed of God ? Can they be his Messengers, and not sent by him ? He would never reward them, if he did not send them. Being sent of God, shall they be charged with those things which they have no power to amend ? Is the Son of God so forgetful, as to rebuke and threaten the Pastour for the Presbyters and the peoples faults, if he have no further power over either, but to ask voices ? At whose hands doth God require his sheep, but at the shepherd’s ? He cannot be Angel of the whole Church, but he must have Pastoral authority over the whole Church.1 Calvin. institut. lib. 4. ca. 43. Alibi Archippum, Colossensium episcopum commemorat.
And as they were chief Pastors, so were they chief in the Church of Christ, God by his Law comprising them under that name ; and commanding not only reverence and maintenance, but obedience also to be given unto them. This case is so clear, it cannot be doubted. 1 The Church, saith Austen, calleth the Bishops her Fathers. The bishops 2 are thy Fathers, saith Jerome, by whom thou art ruled. Origen, That 3 teachers are called Fathers, the Apostle Paul showeth when he saith, I have begotten you in Christ Jesus by the Gospel. 4 He is a good father, saith Ambrose, which can teach & frame the Lord Jesus in us, as Paul saith, my little children, with whom I travel again til Christ be fashioned in you. 5 Can I be a father, saith Chrysostom, & not lament ? I am a father in affection towards you, and languish with love. Hear how Paul crieth out, my little children with whom I travel again. And therefore 6 worthily, saieth he, are the Priests to have more honour, than our own parents. They are these to whom the spiritual births are committed. If they be Fathers, they must be honoured, and the chiefest part of their honour is obedience. Disobedience of children, is punished in God’s Law 7 by death ; and shall it be no sin in us to disobey the Fathers of our faith ?1 August. in Psal. 44. 2 Hiero. in Psal. 44. 3 Origen. in ca. 4. ad Romanos. 4 Ambros. in Psal. 43. 5 Chrysost. homil. 23. in 11. ad Heb. 6 Idem de sacerdetio. lib. 3. 7 Deut. 21.
Their flock, you think, must obey them, but their brethren and fellow Presbyters must not. As though the rest of their flock were not their brethren, as well as the Presbyters ? Or as if among brethren there might be no superiority ? 1 We are all brethren, ( saieth Chrysostom speaking to his Clergy ) howbeit amongst brethren it is lawful that one should prescribe, and the rest obey. And speaking of the return of the Bishop, when himself was a Presbyter at Antioch, he saieth ; 2 (
Benedictus Deus, qui caput corpori reddidit & Pastorem ouibus, Praceptorem discipulis, militibus Ducem
τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν τόν ἀρχιερέα, ) Blessed be God that hath restored the head to the body, the Pastour to the sheep, the Master to the Schollers, the Captain to the soldiers, the high Priest to the Presbyters. Basil writing to the Church of
Neocaesarea upon the death of their Bishop, saieth, 3 Thy fairest beauty ( O City ) is decayed : the Church closeth her eyes, the solemn assemblies look heavily, the sacred Synedrion ( or Presbytery ) desire their head, they that are in dignity their leader, the people their ruler. 4 Be subject to thy Bishop, ( saith Jerome instructing Nepotianus in the duties of a Presbyter ) and reverence him as the father of thy soul. If I be a Father, saith the Prophet, where is mine honour. What Aaron and his sons were, that understand a Bishop and his Presbyters to be. 5 If any ( saieth Ambrose speaking of Presbyters and Ministers ) obey not his Bishop, he swerveth from the right way through pride. Austen being newly made Presbyter, and desiring some longer respite of the bishop before he undertook the execution of his office, saieth, 6 Will you me to perish O father Valerius ? I beseech you by the goodness and mercy of Christ, even by him that hath inspired so great love in you towards us, that we dare not offend you for the gain of our soul. 7 Some of the Presbyters ( saith Cyprian to his Clergy ) neither remembering the Gospel, nor their place, neither thinking on the judgement of the Lord to come, nor on the ; which was never done under any of my predecessours, with contempt and reproach of their Ruler, take upon them to do anything ( even to communicate with those that fall in time of persecution. ) Let those rash and unwise among you know, that if they persist any longer in such actions, I will use that admonition which the Lord willeth me, in suspending them from the ministry of the Lord’s Table ; and at my return, make them answer before us and the whole people for their doings.
Some ripe youths will think all these Fathers were infected with human devices, in attributing so much unto bishops ; but the graver sort will remember these learned and godly men were as like to know what in Christian duty they were to yield, or to ask ; as the platformers of our time, that affirm the bishop must be subject and obedient to the greater part of his Presbyters ; and do nothing but what they determine.
τὸ ἱερὸν συνέδριον τὸν κορυφαῖον ἐπιποθεῖ4 Hiero. ad Nepotianum. 5 Ambros. Officior. lib. 2. ca. 24. 6 August. epist. 148. 7 Cypr. li. 3. epist. 14.
[ If you did not give it only to them, and take it from all others, we would not gainsay it, so much as we do. ] That which is common to every Pastour in regard of those that are under them, cannot be denied the chief, to whose oversight and charge the whole church in every place is committed. If you think the name of Pastour cannot be common to many in one and the same Church, then the bishop must be Pastour alone : for he is the Angel of God’s Church. If the pastoral charge may be common to many, then must he have it chiefly and above all, because he is God’s Angel and superior to all. You remember your own positions ; it is God’s essential and perpetual ordinance that one should be chief as well over Presbyters as people. He cannot be chief in the Presbytery, but he must be chief in the Church ; and consequently if the Presbyters be Pastours, he is chief Pastour.
[ We give him no power but to moderate the meetings, and execute the decrees of the Presbyters. That we are well content the Bishop shall enjoy ; but further we give him none. ] Blessed are your Presbyters, that must have their betters to execute their decrees : but I pray you sirs, for God’s decrees, who shall execute them ? Must the Presbyters voices be asked before God’s Laws shall be executed ? Take heed not of tyrannical, but of Satanical pride, if God’s will shall not take place in your Churches, till the Presbytery be assembled and agreed. You have provided a president to execute your own pleasures ; now let God have one amongst you to execute his.
[ Execution in all things we reserve to him that is chief. For as to consult and decree a number is fittest ; so to execute that which is decreed, one is the surest ; lest if execution be committed to many, their excusing themselves one on another, or dissenting from each other, do hinder the whole. ] You begin to be wise. The honour to determine you keep to yourselves, the pains to execute you lay on your chief Ruler ; to make him the gladder to be rid of his office, that another by course may succeed in his room. And so where by God’s ordinance you must have one chief, you take such order with him, that he shall never be willing to stay long in it.
[ We do it to prevent ambition in such as would seek for the highest place. ] You decrease the ambition of one that should be highest, and increase the pride of an hundred that should be lowest. For where we have one bishop in a Diocese tied to the Laws of God, the Church and the Prince ; you would have three hundred in a Diocese, in some more, all of equal power, and set at liberty to consult and determine of all matters at their pleasures.
We subject our Presbyteries to the Laws of God, the Church, and the Realm, as well as you do your Bishops ; and give them no leave to resist or reverse the decrees of any superiour powers. ] You do well ; For when the God of heaven hath declared his will ; or the Church by her provincial or general Councils determined doubts, and made rules ; or Christian Magistrates by their Laws redressed and ordered things amiss ; besides the loss of your pains it were more than pride for your Presbyters in their assemblies to consult afresh, and bring the selfsame things again to the question. What is decreed by superiours, must not by inferiours be debated, whether it shall take place or no ; but be rather obeyed with readiness. So that in all cases determined by the Laws of God, the Church, or the Prince, consultation is both superfluous and presumptuous ; execution is only needful ; and that must be committed to some persons that may precisely be challenged and punished for the contempt ; if that which is commanded be not performed. Now whom appoint you to execute the decrees of God, the Church, and the prince ? The whole Presbytery ? Then upon the not execution of God’s or man’s Law by any one Presbyter, all must be punished, as well innocent as nocent, diligent as negligent. The blame must lie on all, where the charge is in common. Were you but once or twice well-followed for other men’s faults, you would soon wear weary of this general and confused execution. And though you would not, yet neither the equity nor prudency of God’s or man’s Laws endure that wandering kind of execution. They note and specify the persons that shall have the charge and oversight to execute their decrees ; that upon any neglect or defect the right offendours may be challenged. And since to avoid confusion and prevent delays you commit the execution of your own decrees to the care and circumspection of your President ; what cause can there be why the laws of God, the Church and the Prince should not likewise be executed by the bishop or chief Pastour of each place ? There can be no doubt but the Canons of Councils and Laws of Christian princes touching Church causes, from the Apostles age to ours, have been committed to Episcopal audience and execution ; the question is for God’s Law, who should be trusted with the execution thereof. And who rather say we, than he that is authorized by God to be the Angel of his Church and steward of his house ; at whose mouth the rest should ask the Law, and be rather subject unto him, than perch over him.
[ The execution of God’s Law by no means we grant to the Bishop ; for then we yield him all ; but in that case, though each Presbyter be inferiour to him, yet the whole Presbytery is above him, and may both over-rule him and censure him. ] That is as much as if you had said ; when the sheep list to agree, I will not say, conspire, they must lead their shepheard ; and when the children are willful, they must rule their father. Otherwise, if the bishop be Pastor and father to each Presbyter, he is the like to the whole Presbytery ; and consequently they must hear & obey him as God’s Angel, so long as he keepeth within the bounds of his message.
[ Nay, every Presbyter is a Pastour and Father as well as the Bishop and equal with him, neither hath he by God’s Law any right over them, but only by man’s device. ] Fie on this wavering. Sometimes the Bishop shall be chief over the Presbytery by God’s essential and perpetual ordinance ; Sometimes again every Presbyter shall be equal and even with him, and he not chief over them ; and when you are a little angry, he shall be subject unto them and be censured by them. This tapesing to’ and fro’ I impute rather to the rawness of your discipline not yet digested, than to the giddiness of your heads. This it is to wander in the desert of your own devices without the line of God’s word, or level of his Church to direct you. But can you show us by what authority you claim this power of your Presbyteries above and against their Bishops ? If by Scriptures, produce them ; if by Fathers, then shrink not from them, when they tell you on the other side what power the Bishop had, and should have over his Presbyters.
[ We have both Scriptures and Fathers, but specially Scriptures. First, the Apostles Peter and Paul acknowledge the Presbyters to be Pastours, and give them the feeding, overseeing and ruling the flock. Next, the Presbytery did excommunicate the incestuous Corinthian, and imposed hands on Timothy. Thirdly, they are the Church, which if a man hear not, he must be taken for a Publican and an Ethnic by Christ’s commandement. Fourthly, the commonwealth of Israel had apparently that kind of government which Christ and his Apostles did not alter. Lastly, the fathers confess the Churches at first were governed with the common counsel of the Presbyters, and without their advice nothing was done in the Church. ] These be the forts of your late erected Consistory ; if these be taken from you, you have no place left whither your maimed discipline may retreat : and these are most easily razed to the ground in order as they stand.
For , the same power which you claim by Peter’s and Paul’s words, unto Presbyters as Pastours in respect of the flock committed to their trust ; you must yield unto Bishops as chief Pastors in comparison both of Presbyters and people ; and so you prove against yourselves, for the Bishop is as well chief in the Church, where he is God’s Angel ; as in the Consistory, where he governeth the Presbytery. , you cannot convince that the Presbytery did either excommunicate the malefactor of Corinth, or lay hands on Timothy ; I have cleared the inferments of both places before. And if you could conclude any such thing, which you cannot ; yet most apparently the Apostle Paul with his own mouth 1 adjudged the one, and 2 with his own hands ordained the other. , what is meant by the Church in those words of Christ, ( if he hear not the Church, let him be as an Ethnic unto thee ) I have already discussed ; I need not reiterate. If you will with the Fathers apply that censure to excommunication, you must with the Fathers understand by the Church, the Bishops and chief Rulers of the Church. , neither had the Jews that kind of government which you would establish in the Church ; neither did our Lord and Master, or his disciples ever prescribe to the Gentiles the judicial part or form of Moses law more than they did the ceremonial ; if Moses policy be abrogated, Moses Consistory may not be continued. The Judges cease where the law faileth. The change of the law ceremonial worketh, as the Apostle reasoneth a change of the Priesthood ; and even so the disanulling of their penal judgements, dischargeth all their Judges and Consistories. And were it otherwise, what win you by that against Bishops ? If your Presbyters must be the Jews Elders, your Presidents must answer to their chief Priests, and then have you spun a fair thread. For where you thought to diminish the power of Bishops over Presbyters, you triple it by this Argument. It must be death 3 to disobey the chief Priest in all points and parts of God’s law. Would you stand to your tackling, I would never wish a better reason against you for the power of bishops than your own comparison ; but you use to give back so fast when you be pressed, that my labour would be but lost to follow you. Indeed Cyprian doth vehemently urge that precept of Deuteronomy, and many others of the old Testament for obedience to be yielded to himself and other Bishops, as well by Presbyters as people ; he that will, may see the 4 places. , for Fathers, as your fashion is, you take a paring of one or two of them where they speak to your liking ; but reject both the same and all other ancient writers, when they mainly depose against your new discipline.1 1. Cor. 5. v. 3. 2 2. Tim. 1. v. 6. 3 Deut. 17. v. 12. 4 Cypr. li. 1. epist. 3. 8. 11. & li. 3. epist. 9. & li. 4. epist. 9. 1 Hiero. advers. Luciferianos. 2 Cypr. li. 4. ca. 9. 3 Ibidem.
All that we can say for the power of Bishops above Presbyters out of the Scriptures, is this : That the holy Ghost by the mouth of S. Paul, hath given the Bishop of each place authority to ordain such as be worthy, to examine such as be faulty, and reprove and discharge such as be guilty either of unsound teaching, or offensive living. Thus much he saieth to Timothy and Titus, and in them to their successours, and to all other Bishops of Christ’s Church for ever. The places be plain and need no long discoursing till we hear your answer.
Of admitting Presbyters, Paul saieth to Timothy. 1 Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins. And to Titus : 2 For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ordain Elders in every City such as I appointed thee. Of conventing them he saieth ; 3 Receive no accusation against a Presbyter, but under two or three witnesses. Those that sin, rebuke openly, that the rest may fear. Of dismissing them, he saieth ; 4 I prayed thee to abide at Ephesus to command certain that they teach no strange doctrine. 5 Their mouths must be stopped that teach things, they ought not, for filthy lucre. 6 The Presbyters that do their duties let them be counted worthy of double honour. 7 Stay foolish questions and contentions. 7 A heretic after one or two warnings reject. 8 These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. See no man despise thee. 9 I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect Angels, that thou observe these things, without carying any prejudice, or inclining to either part. The words be singular, the charge is vehement ; the parties were Bishops to whom the Apostle wrote : the case therefore is clear, that the Bishops power over Presbyters in these points is ratified by the express commandement of the holy Ghost.1 1. Tim. 5. 2 Tit. 1. 3 1. Tim. 5. 4 1. Tim. 1. 5 Tit. 1. 6 1. Tim. 5. 7 Tit. 3. 8 Tit. 2. 9 1. Tim. 5.
[ You be mightily deceived. This power belonged to Evangelists, not to Bishops, and therefore it endured but for their time, and exceeded not their persons to whom the Apostles wrote. See you how easily the very foundations of your Prelacy are shaken and overthrown. ] If your reply be sound, you say somewhat to the purpose ; but if it be false, absurd, repugnant to the very Text, and refuted by your own positions, then take you heed, what answer you will make to God for disturbing his Church, despising his ordinance, and deriding his messengers, that himself hath placed and authorized with his own mouth. And here I must pray the Christian Reader advisedly to mark what is said and answered on either side. This indeed is the main erection of the Episcopal power and function, if our proofs stand ; or subversion, if your answer be good. For if this fail, well may Bishops claim their authority by the custom of the Church ; by any divine precept expressed in the scriptures, they cannot. But if these rules be delivered by the Apostle to Bishops, as we say, they are ; and not to Timothy and Titus in respect of their Evangelship, as the Presbyterists affirm ; then can there be no question but this new discipline is a very dream ; and the ancient and Primitive Church of Christ held the right and Apostolical form of governing the house of God according to the prescript of his word. Out rejoinder therefore is as followeth.
No power proper to Evangelists, is, or ought to be perpetual in the Church of Christ ; their calling was both extraordinary, and temporary. But power to ordain fit ministers, to convent and discharge unfit, is, and ought to be perpetual in the Church of Christ. This therefore was no power proper to Evangelists, which S. Paul in these places prescribed unto Titus and Timothy. Again, your Presbyters may not claim Evangelistical power, since your Presbyters are no Evangelists ; but your Presbyteries claim this power, which Paul here committeth to Timothy and Titus, even to ordain, examine, censure and deprive Pastours and Teachers ; ergo, this power was not proper to Evangelists. Let all this be nothing, if Saint Paul in express words say not as much. 1 I charge thee ( saith he to Timothy ) in the sight of God, and before Jesus Christ, that thou keep this commandement without spot and unrebukable, of our Lord Jesus Christ. For Timothy to observe these things until the coming of Christ in glory, was utterly impossible, he was to die long before ; these precepts therefore are delivered to him, and those that should succeed in his place, unto the end of the world. Ergo, Timothy’s power and function in this behalf must be perpetual in the Church of God, and not fail before the day of Judgement. 2 With great vigilancy and providence ( saieth Ambrose upon this place ) doth the Apostle give percepts to the Ruler of the Church ; for in his person doth the safety of the people consist. He is not so circumspect as fearing Timothy’s care, but for his successours, that after Timothy’s example they should observe the ordering of the Church. Now let the Christian Reader judge whether this were a temporary function in Timothy, that died with his person ; or a perpetual charge to him and his successors for ever.1 1. Tim. 6. 1 Ambros. in 1. ad Tim. ca. 6.
[ Surely Timothy was an Evangelist, Timothy was no Bishop. ] You say he was no Bishop ; 1 Eusebius, Jerome, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Theodoretus, Epiphanius, Oecumenius, Primasius, affirm he was a Bishop ; and in that respect S. Paul by this epistle directed him, and all other Bishops in him, how to impose hands on Presbyters, and receive accusations against them ; yea the whole Church of Christ since the Apostles times, without exception hath so construed and observed the Apostles words, in suffering none but Bishops either to ordain, or degrade Presbyters : yet all this with you is nothing ; your bare fancy must overbear both fathers, were they never so learned ; and Churches, were they never so ancient. And though you avouch, this power must not exceed their two persons, to whom S. Paul wrote ; yet you are so liberal and beneficial to your Presbyteries, that against all truth and authority, you make them succeed Timothy and Titus in their Evangelistical power. And so according to your manner you will have this power to be proper, and yet common ; to be extraordinary, and yet usual ; to cease with their persons, and yet to endure forever with your Presbyteries. Fire will better agree with water, than you with yourselves ; except you leave this rolling to’ and fro’ at your pleasures.1 See Chap. 12. pag. 233.
[ We say the Evangelists had this power for a time ; the Presbyteries forever. ] What you say, no wise man will regard, unless you make better proofs than I yet see you do. You have not a word, nor a tittle in the Scriptures for the power of your Presbyteries ; and yet you pronounce so peremptorily and resolutely of them, as if there were nothing else written in the new Testament, but the power of your Presbyters.
[ Did not the Presbytery impose hands on Timothy to make him an Evangelist ? Did not they watch and feed the flock in the Apostles times ? Did not the holy Ghost make them over seers of the Church ? What would you have more ? ] Of lay men, your Presbyteries either wholly or chiefly consist. Then they also be Pastours and Bishops, and watch & feed the flock, and the holy Ghost hath set them over the Church ; and they also impose hands, as well as the best. And to say the truth, what thing is there so peculiar to Pastors which you do not communicate to your Presbyters ? For when you be urged the Presbyters in the Apostles times were by duty to do those things, which belonged properly to Pastoral care and oversight, and therefore lay men were no part of these Presbyteries ; you answer roundly, that lay Elders in the Consistory, do watch and feed and overlook the flock as well as Pastours ; and so not only their power, but also their charge is the very same, as you say, that the holy Ghost gave unto Pastors, and yet they no Pastours. And touching hands laid on Timothy by the Presbytery, you answer yourselves. For when you allege, that the Presbytery did impose hands on Timothy ; we ask you whether all the Presbytery had right and power to impose hands, or only some of them ? If all ; then Lay Elders must either impose hands ( which Calvin conclusively denieth : 1 this we must understand, that only Pastours imposed hands on Ministers ) or be no part of the Presbytery. If some only imposed hands ; and yet the Presbytery is said to do that which not all, but some few, or one of them did ; In like manner Paul saieth the Presbytery laid hands on Timothy, when himself did the deed, who was one of the Presbytery. And thus much Calvin likewise avoucheth ; 2 Paul witnesseth that himself, and none others laid hands on Timothy.1 Calu. institutionum, li. 4. ca. 3.
hoc postremo habendum est, solos Pastores manus imposuisse Ministris.2 Ibid.
Paulus ipse se, non alios complures, Timotheo manus imposuisse commemorat.
And strange it is to see you build the main foundation of your Presbyterical power on a place, that hath so many sound and sufficient answers as this hath. First, Jerome, Ambrose, Primasius and Calvin tell you the word ( Presbytery ) signifieth in that place the degree and function which Timothy received, not the College and number of Presbyters. Next, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophilact tell you, that Paul by the Presbytery meant the Bishops ( their names at first being common: ) for that Presbyters might not lay hands on a Bishop, such as Timothy was. Thirdly, the Scriptures tell you that the Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, and the seventy disciples were of the Presbyteries in the first Church ; and they might well impose hands on Timothy without any Presbyters. Fourthly, Saint Paul telleth you, as Calvin well observeth and urgeth, that himself and none others laid hands on Timothy. Lastly, your selves say Timothy was an Evangelist, which function and vocation the Presbytery of no particular Church could give him, but only the Apostles. What power had the Church of Iconium or Ephesus to make Evangelists, I mean such as should accompany the Apostles, and assist them in their travels ? If you trust neither Scriptures nor Fathers ; for shame trust your selves and your own positions. How shall other men believe your assertions, when your selves do not believe them ? If Timothy were an Evangelist, they must be Apostles and no Presbyters that imposed hands on him. If the Presbytery of any particular Church imposed hands on him, Timothy must be a Bishop, and have a local charge in some Church ; which you impugn under pretence of his Evangelship. Choose which you will, so you choose somewhat, and stand to it when you have chosen it. Were they Presbyters or no, that imposed hands on Timothy ? If they were, yet they did it jointly with Paul ; and so without the Apostle or his successor, Presbyters may not impose hands, and then must Timothy be a Bishop when Paul wrote unto him ; for Presbyters could not make him an Evangelist. Were they no Presbyters but Apostles, or others of higher calling ? Then maketh this place nothing for the power of Presbyters, either to ordain or deprive ministers of the word and Sacraments ; and setting this aside, what one iota find you in the Scriptures concerning your Presbyteries ?
The conclusion is. We show you substantial and full proof, that are charged by Paul to observe these precepts of the holy Ghost in the Church of Christ for ever ; touching the admitting of fit ministers, and removing of unfit. Thence we infer, this power must be perpetual in Bishops, for they succeed Timothy in the Church ; the Presbyteries do not. On the other side you claim this authority from Bishops to your Presbyteries ; but you cannot prove either their succession from Timothy, or joint commission with Timothy, by any sentence or syllable in the Scriptures. That they should feed and watch the flock ; you urge, and we grant ; in teaching and exhorting, they were joined with Timothy, by reason the labourers must of force be many, where the harvest was so great, as in the Apostles times : but in ordaining and governing the Teachers, as there was no need of many, so is there no precept for many, lest by the multitude of Rulers, order should be rather confused than preserved. Wherefore as Timothy was placed at Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, to ordain, moderate and rebuke, as well Presbyters, as people ; so was Archippus at Colossus, so were the seven Pastours in the seven Churches of Asia, to whom the son of God wrote by S. John’s pen ; so in all the Apostolic Churches, were Apostolic men throughout the Christian world left to guide and govern the Churches of Christ with like power, and to leave the same to their successours for ever. And this our construction and exposition of of S. Paul’s words to Timothy, the learned and ancient fathers confirm with one consent, and the Catholic Church of Christ, hath continued and performed in all ages and places since the Apostles deaths.
[ Mean you that Bishops alone might do what they would without the knowledge or consent of their Presbyters ? ] My meaning is soon understood. You establish one chief in your Presbyteries by God’s essential and perpetual ordinance, to execute that which you decree ; whom you call your President. How far I join with you, you shall quickly perceive. To avoid tumults and dissentions, God hath authorized one in each place and Church, able to have & maintain a Presbytery, who with Pastoral and fatherly moderation, should guide as well the Presbyters that assist him, as the people that are subject to him according to the laws of God and man ; the execution whereof is chiefly committed to his charge, that is the Leader and overseer of all the rest ; whom we call a Bishop. His power I call a moderation and not a domination, because the wisdom of God hath likewise allowed and provided Christian means as well to bridle him from wrongs, as to direct him in doubts.
[ That is right the power which we give to our Presbyteries. ] Did you not put lay men instead of Pastours, to be Presbyters, and make them controllers, where they should be but advisers ; your Presbyteries might have some use in the Church of God, though far less now, than when they first began : but your disdaining Bishops and taking from them that which the Apostle giveth them, and your extolling Presbyteries ( the most part whereof, if not all, be lay Elders ) to determine all cases, and censure all persons in the Church, which the Scriptures never speak of ; are the spots and stains of your discipline, which you will never wash away. Presbyteries we acknowledge were in the Apostles times, and in the Primitive Church, serving to religious and needful uses ; but no such Presbyteries as you pretend, neither erected to any such end as you conceive, nor endued with any such sovereign power, as you imagine.
I find many uses of Presbyteries ordained in Cities by the Apostles, and after by them conjoined in one Church with the Bishop ; whereof some are extinguished by the alteration of times, others remain in force to this day. The first was the conversion of the world unto Christ. In great Cities where none yet believed, how long would it be before one man should gain any great number unto the faith ; persecutions especially growing so hot, that none might publicly show himself to be a Christian without danger of life ? Wherefore the holy Ghost disposed and appointed many labourers in every City, to carry the knowledge of the truth from house to house. As at Ephesus Paul at one time furnished 1 twelve with the gifts of God’s spirit for the spreading of the Gospel in that place ; at Rome he saluted 2 twenty that were of his acquaintance, besides those he knew not, who planted themselves and their households in that City, to win the multitude to the obedience of the faith. And so wheresoever the Apostle erected any Church, they did store it with as many meet men to teach the word, as they could find, that the truth of Christ might disperse itself not only throughout their Cities, but into the Towns and countries that bordered near them.1 Act. 19. 2 Rom. 16.
The next use of Presbyteries was to continue such as they had converted, by instructing, exhorting and encouraging the believers from house to house, and from man to man, to stand fast in the doctrine received, and neither to shrink at the bloody storms of tyrants, nor to give ear to the wily charms of Satan, nor follow the deceitful baits of this world ; but constantly, with truth and holiness to serve God, in spite of all adversaries that exalted themselves against the knowledge of Christ. And as the people did increase, so did the pains in each place, and consequently the number of Presbyters ; one man being no more able to serve the necessities of a great City, than to bear the burden of the earth on his back. Wherefore the spirit of wisdom so guided the Church ; that to procure the conversion, and attend the salvation of men, there was everywhere, ( as occasion required ) store of Pastours and Teachers ; and yet to maintain unity, and keep both Preachers and people in peace, there was in each Church and City, one chief amongst them, that as principal Pastour of the place, looked into all their doings, stayed them from dissentions, rebuked the unruly, and with the help of the rest rejected the intolerable : lest many Teachers by challenging unto themselves such as they had converted, should rend the faithful into as many Churches as there were Presbyters in every City, for which cause, each place, were it never so great, had but one Church, and one chief Pastour or Bishop elected to succeed in the Pastoral charge and chair above the rest that were his brethren in office, children in honour, helpers in labour, and assessours in counsel and Judgement.
The third use, was the training up and trying of men that were meet to have the care of souls committed unto them, and the regiment of the Church reposed on them. At first, the wonderful power of the holy Ghost supplied all wants and defects of learning and knowledge, so that by the laying on of the Apostles hands, men before unfit were made meet : but because these gifts were not always to continue, or not in so plentiful manner as at the Prime tide of the Gospel ; the Apostles settled in every Church and City, needing their service, and able to give them maintenance, by reason of the populousness of the place, a Presbytery, that is, a convenient number of Deacons to serve about divine matters and mysteries, and of Pastours to intend for the word and Sacraments. From whence as from a fountain, both the Cities themselves might at all times after have sufficient men to furnish their own turns, and to help the smaller Towns and Villages within their circuit, which for the slenderness of their state, could neither maintain Presbyteries, nor nourish up meet men to supply their need upon the death of the former Incumbents. This to us that have Universities for that purpose founded by the bounteousness of Christian Princes and other benefactours, may seem superfluous ; but the Church of Christ after her first supply made by the Apostles hands, had no means to continue the succession of fit and able Pastours in each place, but only her Presbyteries in greater Churches and Cities, that were her nurseries of learning, and Seminaries of sound religion and holy conversation ; which stored both the Cities where they were supported, and the country round about, that was under the charge and oversight of the Bishop of each City.
The fourth use of Presbyteries, which you much grate on, but never rightly hit, was the advising and assisting the Bishop or Pastour of each Church and City in all doubts and dangers. At first there were no Councils to make Canons, nor Christian Princes to establish laws for the good guiding and ordering of the Church ; but each place was left to direct itself. Lest therefore the Bishop’s only will should be the rule of all things in the Church ; the government of the Church was at first so proportioned, that neither the Presbyters should do any thing without their Bishop ; nor the Bishop dispose matters of importance without his Presbytery. The Presbyters sat not with the Bishop as equal in power with him, much less as superiour above him, when the more part consented against him ; you would fain have it so : but the Church of Christ, from the Apostles to this present, never used or endured any such presumption.1 Ignatius ad Magnesios. 2 Idem ad Sarsenses. 3 Canones Apostolorum, ca. 38. 4 Tertul. de baptismo. 5 Concil. Ancyr. ca. 13. 6 Concil. Laodicen. ca. 56. 7 Concilii Arelatens. 1. ca. 19. 8 Hiero. advers. Luciferianos.
[ This was that custom of the Church, which Jerome confessed was against the Divine disposition. ] If this were the custom of the Primitive Church, then were their Presbyteries nothing like your Consistories ; neither did the Bishop as a Consul in the Senate ask voices, and execute what the most part decreed ; but as a Pastour he governed & over-looked, as well the Presbyters as the people ; and without his consent and liking, the Presbyters might do nothing, no not haptize nor administer the Lord’s supper. Neither doth Jerome say that this custom of the Church was against the divine disposition; he is so far from condemning it, that he saith, 1 the safety of the Church dependeth thereon ; but Jerome willeth the Bishops to remember, that though the whole care and oversight of the Church be now given to them, and taken from Presbyters for preventing of schisms ; yet they should use them with honour, and consult with them for the good of the Church, because by the truth of the divine disposition before schisms began, they were trusted in common with the regiment of the Church.1 Adversus Luciferianos.
[ That disposition which he calleth divine, we seek to restore. ] By pretense of those words, you proclaim your own devices under the title of God’s ordinance. Otherwise, the charge that Paul giveth Timothy, maketh strongly for Bishops against your Presbyteries ; but that we interpret his words by the practice of the Church ; and thereby conceive, that though the chief power and care were committed to Bishops ; yet their Presbyteries were not excluded. For as then Bishops had no means to be directed or assisted, but only their Presbyteries. Afterwards, when upon the general prevailing of the Gospel on the face of the earth, Synods began to assemble ; and the Pastors of divers Churches used by letters and meetings to confer about such orders and rules as they thought needful to be observed in all their Churches ; the Presbyteries of every particular place had more leasure and leave to play, by reason provincial Councils undertook the debating and resolving of those doubts and difficulties that before troubled the Presbyteries. And as you tie your President to the execution of such things as your Presbyters shall decree ; so the Primitive Church of Christ had greater reason and better ground to bind her Bishops to see those things performed, which were concluded by general assent of the Bishops and Pastours of any Province. Where you may see, upon what occasion, the power of Presbyteries first decreased, not that Bishops wrongfully encroached on their liberties, and violently over-mastered them ; but what things were before handled and debated in the Presbyteries of each place, came now to be discussed and concluded in the Synods and full assemblies of all the Bishops and Pastours of one kingdom or Country. So that Synods in consultation and determination of all ecclesiastical griefs and causes, were preferred by the Primitive Church of Christ, as Courts of greater judgement, higher power, better experience and more indifferency, than Presbyteries ; and if malice do not blind you, you will confess the same.
Was it possible to find in any Presbytery, so many grave, wise, learned, and sufficient men as in a Province ? In Presbyteries, affections and factions mightily prevail, by reason men that live together upon liking or disliking, soon link together : In Synods where all were strangers to themselves and to the parties, no such thing could be feared. In Presbyteries it was easy for the Bishop to have his forth, for that the rest were subject unto him, and might many ways be displeased by him, if he would seek revenge : In Synods they were all his brethren and equals, no way in danger to him, and therefore the more likely to be sincere and indifferent Judges. And as for authority, I trust your selves do not mean in every Parish to erect a Pope and a College of Cardinals, from whom there shall be no appeal, of whose wrongs there shall be no redress, whose censures must stand indissoluble ; that were of all tyrannies the most intolerable. In all Christian societies, the whole of like power and calling is greater than any part ; and a Province must be respected before a Parish. Wherefore Presbyteries must yield to Synods ; and the Bishop of each place is more bound to regard and execute Synodal than Presbyteral decrees.
This while you mark not, you imagine the whole Church of Christ conspired against Presbyters to suppress them, and to change the Apostolical form of regiment ; where indeed the decrees of Councils and laws of Christian princes moderating and determining all those doubts and questions which before were examined in Presbyteries, caused them to be less needed and less regarded than before ; and charged the Bishop with the execution of all laws and Canons, without assembling or consulting his Presbyters ; superiour Courts not submitting their acts to the judgement of inferiour officers. Wherefore, when you rail at Bishops as usurpers and tyrants over their brethren, you forget that after so many hundred years, all things being settled and guided by laws, which your Presbyteries neither may reverse, nor can correct ; your Elders were as good spare their pains, as lose their labours. More laws we need not, better you cannot make ; no man that hath his right wits will choose to live under the discretion of the Presbyters, rather than under the prescript of written laws. Frustrate them when you will to make work for your Consistories, and you shall find greater difference betwixt the equity and certainty of the Canons, and the affectionate and inconstant headiness of your Presbyters.
[ We would change no laws, but such as are Popish ; and where now the Bishop alone doeth all, we would join the Presbytery with him. ] The laws that upheld the Pope’s superstition or usurpation are already abrogated, thanks be to God ; the rest that agree with the Canons of the Primitive Church, if you seek to dissolve, I would wish you did publish the new, that men might see them before you did exauthorate the old, lest you make the people as lawless as your Presbyters. It is easier to avert or disturb, than to plant or establish a Church or commonwealth. If you take not the same laws again, I dare warrant your children’s children to the fourth generation, shall see neither order nor peace in your Churches. And as for joining Presbyters with the Bishop to execute laws, that is the way to multiply Bishops, and where we have one, to make us twenty ; but that is not the way to have laws more speedily or sincerely executed. In a multitude, diversity of opinions breedeth delays, & hindereth execution ; in one it cannot ; and if each man be subject to affections, I hope the more, the worse. But what reason we whether one or many shall execute the laws, when it is not in our hands to limit the law-makers to our choice : They that have power from God to make laws, have likewise authority & liberty to choose whom they will charge with the execution of their laws ; and therefore in God’s name, let both Councils and Princes choose what persons they think meetest to see their Canons and Laws observed ; so long as they transgress not the rules of piety and equity.
[ Our chiefest care is for the right execution of God’s law ; which we would not have committed to the Bishop without his Presbyters. ] Give the Bishop that right and authority which God’s law alloweth him, and then join with him, whom you can. [ What right is that ? ] You heard before. He must have Pastoral and Paternal power ; either wholly, if by God’s law there may be but one Pastor in one Church ; or chiefly, if there may be more in the same place to advise and assist him in governing the flock. More authority by God’s law we claim not for Bishops, than to be Pastours of the places which they govern. And Pastoral authority since you give to every Rector in his Church, what reason have you to deny it to every Bishop in his Diocese ?
[ We give no man Pastoral power over the Presbyteries ; and as for Dioceses, we say they are intrusions on other men’s cures. ] If by God’s law you assign one Church to one man as Pastour of the same ; then all the members of that Church, be they Presbyters or people, must be subject to him as to their Pastour, and he must have Pastoral authority over them, whatsoever they be. And therefore this shift of yours, that the Presbyters shall have a President over them by God’s ordinance, but no Pastour, is a mere collusion, repugnant as well to the word as Church of God. For what do the Scriptures call your President in respect of the Presbyters, if not a Pastour ? Show us either his name or his power in the new Testament ; and if it be not equivalent with Pastoral, we will exempt your Presbyters from all subjection. The power that Timothy received, to restrain them from preaching false doctrine, and to convent and rebuke such Presbyters as sinned, was it not Pastoral ? And that charge was to remain by the Apostles words, to him and his successors till the coming of Christ. Your Pastours that you would erect in country parishes, shall they not have Pastoral power over your lay Presbyters ? Shall your lay Elders be sheep without a shepherd ? Shall no man watch over their souls ? If your lay Presbyteries must have a Pastour over them in each country parish, how commeth it to pass that your Presbyteries in Cities may endure no Pastours above them ? Are they not all of one and the same institution by your own rules ? Is there one order in the Scriptures for rustical Presbyteries ; and another for civil ? I think your selves ran hardly show any such distinction. Wherefore when we give bishops Pastoral authority as well over their Presbyters as over their people, we do it by the warrant of God’s word, that maketh them chief Pastours over their Churches, which includeth both Presbyters and people ; and we therein give them no more than by your wills you would give to the meanst Rectors of country parishes.1 Concil. Carthaginens. 4. ca. 23. 2 & 32. 3 Concil. Hispaleensis 2. ca. 6.
[ Against this tyrannical power which you mention we repine ; that Bishops alone should excommunicate and deprive Presbyters at their pleasures. ] Did you acknowledge the Canonical authority of bishops, we should soon conclude for the tyrannical ; but under the show of the one you impugn the other, and when you come to redress it, you establish a plainer tyranny instead of it. True it is that the frequency of Synods, did first rebate the credit and decay the use of Presbyteries. For when the bishops of each province, as by the general Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon they were bound, met twice every year, to hear and moderate Ecclesiastical griefs and causes ; Presbyters were less regarded, and less employed than before ; Synods, as superiour Judges entering into the examination and decision of those things, which were wont to be proposed in Presbyteries. And when private quarrels & questions increasing, Synods began to be tired with continual sitting about such matters, and the bishops of most Churches to be detained from their cures and attend the debating & deciding of griefs & displeasures betwixt man and man, the burden grew so intolerable, that Synods were forced to settle an appeal from the bishop to the Metropolitan ; & commit it to the care of the Primate, what causes were fit for Synodal cognition. The Council of Sardica, 1 If any Bishop in a rage hastily moved against a Presbyter or Deacon, will cast him out of the Church, we must provide that an innocent be not condemned, and deprived the Communion. All answered ; Let the party so ejected, have liberty to fly to the Metropolitan of the same province, and desire his cause to be more advisedly heard. The great Council of Africa finding how troublesome it was for the bishops of that whole Region to meet and stay the hearing of all matters, 2 chose out three of every Province to end causes undetermined ; and by reason they could not assemble twice a year for the length of the way, they were contented with 3 one full Council in the year, and left the causes and complaints of Presbyters, Deacons and other Clergy men, first to the bishops that were nearest, and then to the Primate or Metropolitan of the same province. 4 We decree that Presbyters, Deacons, and other inferiour Clergy men, if in any matters they find themselves agreed with the judgements of their own Bishops ; the Bishops that are nearest shall give them audience. And if they think good to appeal from them, they shall not appeal to the Tribunals beyond the Seas, but to the Primates of their own Province, even as we have often decreed of Bishops.1 Concil. Sardicens, ca. 14. 2 Concil. African. ca. 129. 3 Ibidem ca. 19. 4 Ibidem ca. 28.
These Canons did not establish but repress tyrannical power in bishops, if any did assert it, and required the bishop before he proceeded against Presbyter or Deacon, to take unto him assessours of the nearest bishops, such as the parties convented should demand ; and if they could not end the cause with the liking of both sides, then the Primate to have the hearing of it, and lastly, the Council, if either part would appeal from the Primate. Thus did the Bishops of the Primitive Church order the hearing of causes within their provinces, neither proudly nor Antichristianly, but in my judgement, soberly and wisely referred them from the Bishop to the Primate ; thereby to ripen causes, and search into the truth of each complaint, with a great deal less trouble and no less indifferency, then if it had been immediatly brought to the Council.
And were you as moderate as you be resolute, you would perceive what a tedious labour it is, and in our State superfluous for a Synod of Bishops to sit all a year long hearing private griefs, complaints and contentions. If you be so desirous of it, I would you were for a while fast tied to it, that you might learn to be wise ; you would be the willinger as long as you lived to let courts alone, and spend your time better than in examinations, depositions and exceptions of witnesses. Howbeit in our realm unless you change all your Ecclesiastical laws, I see not how Synods or Presbyteries should intermeddle with any such matters. For how shall your Presbyters judge ? By discretion, or by law ? Your discretions I know no man so foolish that will trust. What greater tyranny & injury can be urged on a christian realm, than instead of Laws to offer the determinations of your Presbyteries ? Shall each man’s safety and soul depend on your pleasures ? But your Presbyteries you mean shall be tied to execute the same Laws that are already settled. Alas good men ; how many hundred years will you ask before your Presbyteries in cities and villages will be able to read them ? And how many thousand before they understand them ? Are you well in your wits to claim the execution of those Laws for your Presbyteries, which they neither do, nor ever will conceive ? First set them to school, and when they can read law, send them to the universities, and upon their growing to such perfection that they can hear & decide each man’s case by the Laws of this realm, make petition for them, to have them authorized in every parish instead of the Arches. If otherwise you will have them sit Judges in all men’s cases before they can read either Latin or Law ; the world will muse at your madness.
[ Your Bishops are no such great Lawyers. ] And therefore they have the more need of Chancellors and Registers that are better acquainted with the Laws than themselves are, and as for appeals, unless you look to tread government under your feet, and over-rule all things by the mere motions of your own wills, though they sometimes advantage offendours, yet were they provided to protect innocents, and are Christian remedies to do every man right that thinketh he hath wrong. They do not maintain the Antichristian pride of bishops ; there can be none other, nor better way to repress it, than by appeal to bring the judgements of all their Courts and Officers to be tried and examined by the prince’s power and delegates, which I trust you take to be no tyranny. If corruption sometimes creep in through men’s fingers to bolster bad causes, the Laws are far from allowing, and I as far from defending it. What hath been so sacred, that covetousness hath not expugned ? and your Presbyteries, except they consist of Angels, and not of men, will soon show both what affections and what corruptions are in men, as well as other Consistories.
[ Man’s laws we leave to such as are skilled in them ; we would have our Presbyteries meddle no further than with rebuking and censuring of vice, as God’s Law requireth. ] 1 To admonish those that err, reject those that persist, and 2 rebuke those that sin, are Pastoral and not Presbyterial duties by the words of S. Paul. And he that is Pastour, hath both word and sacraments committed unto his care within his own Church. Wherefore, without their pastour the Presbyters may not judicially rebuke, nor publicly excommunicate any man within his charge. They may preach the word, and so generally apply it in the pulpit, they may dispense the Sacraments, and so not deliver them, where they find men impenitent ; but personally to convent them, or openly to sever them from the fellowship of the church that belongeth to the Pastour, and not to the Presbyters. Saint Paul committed that power and care to Timothy, and his successours, not to the Presbytery of Ephesus. The words are plain. 3 Against an Elder receive thou no accusation, but under two or three witnesses. Those that sin, rebuke thou openly, that the rest may fear. I charge ( thee ) before God and the Lord Jesus, and his elect Angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice or partiality, that is, without oppressing or favouring any side. Show thus much for your Presbyteries, and bring them in with full sail.1 Titus 3. 2 1. Timoth. 5. 3 1. Timoth. 5.
[ Paul made Timothy no Monarch at Ephesus to do all this without the Presbytery ; but appointed him to be chief in these actions, and the Presbyters to join with him. ] Much less did Paul make him a voice-asker, to know whether it should please the Presbyters to have these things done, or no. The charge is precisely and exactly Timothy’s, and not the Presbytery’s ; the power therefore must be his and not theirs. All this notwithstanding, you affirm against the words of the Apostle, and against the use of the Primitive Church, that the Presbyters might over-rule and censure Timothy, if he would not be quiet ; and in spite of Timothy do in all these things as they saw cause ; and this you barely suppose without any kind of proof. But either show what warrant you have to claim this prerogative of Presbyters above and over their bishops and pastours ; or give us leave to believe the whole Church of Christ expounding and practicing those words of S. Paul as we do ; before your slender and naked supposals. The private use of the keys in appointing offendors upon the acknowledging of their sins, for a time to forbear the Lord’s Table, we deny not to Presbyters ; but the public use of the keys, to exclude an impenitent and obstinate person from all fellowship of the faithful as well sacred as civil ; that the Church of Christ allowed always, and only to bishops.
Origen saith, by 1 falling from truth, faith and love, a man goeth out of the tents of the church, though he be not cast out by the . Cyprian writing to a bishop, that was reproached by his Deacon, saith, 2 Use against him the power of your honour either , or from the communion. 3 The affection of a good Bishop, saith Ambrose, wisheth to heal the sick, to remove cankered sores ; to cauterize, not to cut off ; lastly, that which can not be healed with sorrow. 4 I marvel, saith Jerome against Vigilantius, the , in whose charge he is said to be a Presbyter, this unprofitable vessel with the Apostolic rod, and deliver him over ( to Satan ) for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved. 5 There is no greater punishment in the Church ( saith Austen ) than that damnation, which pronounceth ; yet the Pastor must needs sever the sick sheep from the whole, lest deadly infection reach unto others. 6 If ( saith Chrysostom, giving the people admonition of a certain abuse crept in amongst them ) we be despised, we shall be compelled to bring these threats to effect, & to chastise you by the laws of the church. Be angry who list, I will keep them from the church a long space as Idolaters. Bear with me, neither let any man despise the bands of the church. It is not man that bindeth, but Christ which hath given us this power, & made men masters of so great honor. We desire not to be brought to that extremity ; if we be, we will do our duty. If any man break those bands, I have done my part ; thou shalt answer to him, that to bind thee.1 Origen. homil. 14 in Leui. ca. 24. 2 Cypr. lib. 3. epist. 9. 3 Ambros. officior. lib. 2. ca. 27. 4 Hiero. ad Riparium advers. Vigilantium. 5 August. de gratia & corruptione ca. 15. 6 Chrysost. homil. 5. in 2. cap. ad Hebraeos.
The Council of Nicea willed Synods to be kept twice every year, to examine whether any 1 Lay men or Clergy men were excommunicated, by the imbecility, pertinacity or insolency of the Bishop ; and such as were found to have , to stand excommunicate, til the Synod released them. The Council of Antioch likewise decreed, that if 2 any Lay man, Presbyter, or Deacon were excommunicated , no man should receive him to the communion, before he were restored by his own Bishop, or by a Synod. The Council of Sardica in the same manner ; 3 If any Deacon, Presbyter or Clergy man be excommunicated, & fly to another Bishop of his acquaintance, that knoweth he is deprived of the communion , the other must not with reproach to a Bishop and his brother, receive that person to the communion. The Council of Taurine to which Ambrose wrote, decreed touching Exuperantius a Presbyter, ( that had reproached Triferius his bishop, & was therefore by him put from the communion ) 4 That his restitution should be , in whose power the rejecting of him was. And therefore when Exuperantius ( the Presbyter ) should make satisfaction, or Triferius the bishop be so content, then he should be received to the communion. The Council of Africa taketh order for such as 5 complain against the judgements of their own bishops, that they shall be heard by the next bishops ; but if any man fly 6
τὴν κανονικὴν φῆφον τοῦ οἰκείου ἐπισκόπου, , no man should receive him to the communion. By which it appeareth that Gregory’s words are very true, where he saith, 7 the now in the Church hold the places of the Apostles. which have that degree of regiment, to bind and loose. And Theophilact’s, 8 They to bind and loose, who have the grace of a , as Peter had.
The public use therefore of the keys, to excommunicate from all Christian company, belonged to the bishop as pastor of the place. The Presbyters sat with him ; at first as assessors and consenters, before Synods undertook such causes ; but after when once Councils began to have the hearing of such griefs, then sat the Presbyters with the Bishop, only as beholders and advisers of his judgement, that the matter being public might be handled with the more gravity and sincerity ; not withstanding, to examine it, or reverse it, pertained only to the assembly of the bishops of the same province.
ut in eius arbitrio sit restitutio ipsius, in cuius potestate eius abiectio, & c.5 Concil. Afric. ca. 28. 6 Ibidem ca. 9. 7 Gregor. lib. 50. homiliarum homil. 26. 8 Theophilact. in Math. ca. 16.
[ To increase the power of Bishops, you make them Pastours over Churches ; but when it cometh to the discharging of Pastoral care, they be furthest off : but grant them to be Pastours, they can be but over those Churches that are in Cities ; over whole shires they cannot be ; since they can not be present in so many places to do any Pastoral duties. ] Had we first devised or else divided dioceses for bishops, you might well have challenged us for making them larger than Pastoral care might extend unto ; but your quarrel indeed is not to the length or breadth of their dioceses ( which must wholly be referred to the wisdom and consideration of the State; ) you dislike that a Bishop should have any Diocese at all or govern any Church besides that one wherein he teacheth and administereth the Sacraments. Which nice conceit of yours not only condemneth the whole primitive Church of Christ that assigned Dioceses unto bishops, but contradicteth the very grounds and examples of that government which the Apostles left behind them.
[ Did the Apostles appoint Dioceses for Bishops ? That were news indeed. ] No such news, but that your own Principles will confirm the same. For what order say you did the Apostles leave behind them to govern the Church ? Did they trust one Pastour or Presbyter alone in each place to do as he thought good ? Or else did they provide direction and assistance in dangerous and doubtful cases to guide him and help him in the government of the church ? The power of one man in each church to do what he will, be he Pastour or Presbyter, your selves affirm is Antichristian and devilish. And I think you say truth, if he will have neither associates to restrain him, nor superiours to overlook him. That were to plant a Pope in every parish, with plenitude of power to do what pleaseth himself. What you detest in Bishops, I hope you will not endure in the Presbyter or Pastour of every parish church in the Country ; that he shall take upon him alone to guide his flock as he seeth cause, without consent or oversight of any man.
[ You may be sure we abhor it as the poison of all piety, and the very root of Antichrist’s pride. ] Means to avoid it I see none ; but that every rural Pastour must have either a Presbytery in the place with him ; or the Bishop of another church appointed over him ; that may both direct him and rule him as he doth the Presbyters of his own city. If he have no help at home, he must needs seek it abroad. One of the twain is inevitable. Now for Presbyteries there is no possibility to have either so many meet Clergy men, or so much maintenance as will serve them in every country parish. Fit Pastours for so many places, putting one to a Parish, could never yet be found. Whence then shall we get so many thousand able Presbyters as to furnish each parish with three or four ? Which are few enough, and too few, respecting the burden that they must bear in the sight of God and man.
Again, had we store of men, which we have not, nor no age before us had ; from whom shall we have maintenance for them and theirs ? From the people ? Half the realm of England employed to that use will even but serve. The people now yield a tenth part unto God and their Minister, which proportion is so moderate, that where the parishes are small, the Pastour hath work enough to live thereon. Then must they consequently give five parts of ten, which is just the half of all they have, before there can be any show of a Presbytery in every parish. I do not ask you how well the people, that are, God knoweth, poor enough in many places with these nine parts which they have, will like to spare so much to the furthering of your fancies ; or how a Christian Prince can digest to have all her subjects so disabled, and half the realm allotted to support your conceits. These blocks and a hundred such you never stumble at, while you run yourselves out of breath to pursue the perfection and profit of your discipline ; but this I would know : did the Apostles, besides the relief of the poor, which indeed is a divine precept, impose this charge on every parish by God’s commandement ? Or did ever any Christian kingdom or commonwealth since Christ’s ascension abide this yoke ? If they did, show the instance, and claim your maintenance ; if you can show no such thing, do you not perceive that your little fingers are heavier to God’s people than the Apostles loins were ? And that your discipline is far grievouser to the faithful, than their doctrine ? The best is, you may talk long enough, before either Prince or people, rich or poor will admit or endure this chargeable frame of your needless and proofless government.
To amend these flaws, which rend the very body of your discipline in sunder, ( for hardly can so many Pastours in every parish be gotten, as you must have ; and more hardly maintained ; ) you are driven to change the very substance of the Presbyteries that were in the Apostles times, and instead of Ministers of the word and sacraments, who preaching the Gospel must live of the Gospel, to return us a quest of Lay Elders, which you thought might be found in every place, and would not be so costly as the former ; and to give them power to impose hands, to bind and loose sins in heaven and earth, to censure doctrine and manners in all men, even in Pastours, by deprivation, excommunication or howsoever ; and rather than they should miscarry, to make them Teachers and Watchmen, Pastours and Bishops in the church of God, contrary to the whole church of Christ, to all the ancient and learned Fathers and Councils, and contrary no less to the Scriptures than to your own positions. But Masters, you must either confound all, and make no difference betwixt Pastour and people, which now you are fair for ; or, will ye nill ye, you must exclude Lay Elders from these actions, which be proper to Pastours ; and so have no Presbyteries, but where meet men may be had, and in Christian manner honoured and succoured for their pains. And consequently country parishes, which by no means can be provided either of men or maintenance sufficient for such Presbyteries, as the word of God alloweth, must have their Pastours restrained by none, and subjected to none, but Pope-like, if not Lucifer-like, to be more than Princes ; or if that be not tolerable, then must they be united and annexed to some city that lieth near them, and be governed by the bishop and Presbytery of that place even as the churches in the city are, and so be part of his charge and diocese.
How ancient Dioceses were in the church of God, and how generally received and approved ; will soon appear by the full consent of all antiquity. The Council of Antioch renewed 1 (
τὸν ἀρχαῖον κρατήσαντα τῶν πατέρων κανόνα, ) The Canon of their fathers anciently established, that no Bishop should undertake but those things only which pertained to his own Church, and the country towns belonging to the same. Every bishop hath full power (
ἢ ταῦτα μόνα, ὅσα τῇ ἑκάστου ἐπιβάλλει παροικίᾳ, καὶ ταῖς ὑπ᾿ αὐτὴν χώραις, ) in his own Church and in all the Country round about which is under the jurisdiction of his city, to make Priests and Deacons and dispose every thing discreetly. The general Council of Constantinople saieth, 2 (
τοὺς ὑπὲρ διοίκησιν ἐπισκόπους, ταῖς ὑπερορίοις ἐκκλησίαις μὴ ἐπιέιναι, ) Bishops must not invade the Churches that are 3 without the bounds of their Diocese, 4 unless they be called, they may not pass the limits of their own Diocese either for ordering of Ministers, or for any other Ecclesiastical business, (
φυλαττομένου δὲ τοῦ προγεγραμμένου περὶ τῶν διοικήσεων κανόνος, ) observing the Canon that is already established of every man’s Diocese. The general Council of Ephesus having report made unto them, that the bishop of Antioch presumed to order in Cyprus without the compass of his Diocese and Province, repressed that his enterprise, being as they term it, 5 (
πρᾶγμα παρὰ τοὺς ἐκκλησιαστικοὺς θεσμοὺς, καὶ τοὺς κανόνας τῶν ἁγὶον ὰποστόλον καινοτομούμενον, ) An innovation against the Ecclesiastical laws, & against the Canons of the holy Apostles ; and decreed the Bishops of Cyprus should hold their right untouched & unviolated according to the Canons of the holy Fathers and their ancient custom ; adding therewithal that the selfsame rule should be observed in other Dioceses and Provinces whatsoever, that no Bishop should invade another’s limits, which were not anciently, and from the beginning subject to him or his predecessours.
The great Council of Chalcedon determineth, 1 that all rural Churches and Country parishes shall remain unmovable, or without alteration to the Bishops that have had them ; specially if they have quietly possessed and governed them above thirty years. For the enlarging of Dioceses upon the return of schismatics and heretics to the Church ; and parting them with the consent of the former Bishop, where the circuit was too wide and troublesome, or joining them where the people so desired ; he that will, may read the 57. 102. 103. 119. 120. 121. 122. canons of the great African Council. By which it is evident, that the Bishop of every City besides his principal and Cathedral Church had the villages and parishes of the Country round about that City belonging to his Diocese and jurisdiction ; and these partitions and distributions began even from the and from the beginning, as the Council of Ephesus avoucheth, and were confirmed and ratified by the four great and Oecumenical Councils, and received and continued by all the godly Bishops and Fathers of the Primitive Church. Wherefore they be mightily deceived that think cathedral churches, and Episcopal Dioceses to be a part of Antichrist’s pomp and pride, and his first invention ; the wisdom of God’s spirit devised & settled that course even from the first enlarging of the church ; & all the general and provincial Councils liked & allowed the same. There is almost no Council that doth not mention & confirm to every bishop his Diocese ; and inhibit all others to enter or intermeddle with any cause or person in another man’s circuit. The Council of Ancyra suffereth not the 2 rural Bishops to ordain, without the license of the bishop of the City. The Council of Neocesaria provideth that, 3 the Presbyters of the same region, shall not minister the Lord’s Supper, when the Bishop of the City is present. The Council of Gangris accurseth all that assemble any Congregation for Divine service, 4 unless a Presbyter licensed by the Bishop be present with them. The Council of Laodicea forbiddeth any 5 Bishop to be made in Country towns and villages. The Council of Antioch calleth it 6 a Canon of their fathers, that anciently stood in force, even as the Council of Nicea before them said it was 7 an ancient use. The Council of Ephesus maketh it an 8 Apostolic rule. The Council of Carthage kept by Constantine’s procurement, inhibited, 9 that no Bishop should usurp upon another’s borders, or cures, without his request, because thence came all other mischief. The Council of Sardica likewise ; 10 Let your Holiness prohibit, that no Bishop procure away any ecclesiastical Minister of the Bishop of another City, & order him in his own Diocese, ( or parishes. ) The third Council of Carthage would have 11 no Bishop usurp over another’s flocks, nor encroach on his Colleague within his Diocese. The fourth Council of Carthage commanded the 12 Presbyters that guided Churches through the Dioceses to set Chrism not from any Bishop, but from their own Bishop. The Council of Aurelia, 13 All the Churches that have been, or are daily builded in sundry places, we decree according to the rule of the former Canons, that they shall be in the power of that Bishop, in whose territory they stand.1 Concil Chalcedonens. act. 15. ca. 17. 2 Concil. Ancyr. ca. 13. 3 Concil. Neocasariens. ca. 13. 4 Concil. Gangrens. ca. 6. 5 Concil. Laodic. ca. 56. 6 Concil. Antioch. ca. 9. 7 Concil. Nicen. ca. 6. 8 Concil. Ephes. post adventum episcoporum Cypriorum. 9 Concil. Carthag. 1. ca. 10. 10 Concil. Sardicens ca. 18. 11 Concil. Carthaginens. 3. ca. 20. 12 Concil. Carthaginens. 4. ca. 36. 13 Concil. Aurelianens. ca. 19.
As the use of Dioceses was ancient, so the reason that first occasioned them was inevitable, even by the patern of the Apostolic Discipline. For when country towns and villages first began to receive the faith, how were they furnished with fit Pastours, and how were their Churches governed but by the Bishop and Presbytery of some city adjoining ? Lay Presbyteries the church of Christ never had any, yea the Scriptures permit none to rule Pastoural actions ; other Presbyteries those places were neither able to have, nor to maintain. What now was left but only to submit and incorporate themselves to the Bishop of some City near them, by whom their Churches might be both guided and supplied, when any need required, even as the churches in cities were ? If to avoid schisms rising everywhere by the multitude of Teachers and Pastours, Bishops were in the Apostles times placed throughout the world, in all the cities that accepted the Gospel, to guide and moderate the Presbyters that were many ; shall we think this order was needful only for cities, and needless for Towns and Villages ? Were not the Presbyters of so many parishes as one shire doth yield, as like to trouble the Region with Schisms and heresies, as the Presbyters of the city ? You lack sense, if you think that dissention and errour could not creep as well into Villages as into Cities ; or that the Apostles provided one kind of regiment for cities, another for country parishes. If all the churches in one city, which at Rome were 1 above fourty in Optatus time, were governed by one bishop ; why might not the Villages, and Parishes confining round about the City, be governed after the same manner.1 Optatus lib. 2. contra Parmenianum fol. 16.
So that for Dioceses, as well the necessity, as the antiquity of them, is evident. It was not possible in the Primitive church, to have Presbyters to succeed in the rooms of such as died in country parishes, but from the bishop in whose Diocese the churches were. He supplied their wants out of his own church and Presbytery, which served to store the whole Diocese. Otherwise, within his circuit none other bishop could ordain a Presbyter ; nor without his leave might any Clergy man depart his church. The Council of Antioch : 1 A Bishop may not invade another’s City that is not subject to him, nor Country not pertaining to him, to ordain any ; neither he appoint Presbyters or Deacons in places that are under another Bishop unless it be with the liking ( or consent ) of the Bishop of that Region or Country. The Council of Nicea : 2 If any Presbyters or Deacons or other Clergy men, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor knowing the Ecclesiastical Canon, leave their own Church, they must not by any means be received in another Church. And if any shall withhold a Clergy man belonging to another, and ordain him in his own Church, ( the Bishop, from whom he departed, not agreeing, ) his ordering shall be utterly void. This was the general and perpetual discipline of Christ’s church in all the coasts and quarters of the world, as may appear to him that will take pains to view these places. The Council of Constantinople 1. ca. 2. and 3. Of Chalcedon. ca. 8. Of Carthage the first, ca. 5 ; the second ca. 11 ; the third ca. 20. and 21 ; the fourth ca. 27. Of Orleans, ca. 22. Of Sardica, ca. 18. 19. Of Taurine, ca. 6. Of Aurenge, ca. 8. Of Venice, ca. 10. Of Tours, ca. 9. 11. And so the Milevitane Council, ca. 15. African, ca. 21. Aurelian the third ca. 15. The Epaunine, ca. 5. The Valentine, ca. 6. And Arvernine ca. 9. and 10.1 Concil. Antioch. ca. 22. 2 Concil. Nicen. ca. 16.
If these rules were universally and anciently observed, that no Presbyter might remove from one church to another, nor depart from the church where he was first called, without the consent of his bishop ; neither might any other man impose hands on him, or admit him and invest him into any church, without the liking and goodwil of the bishop, in whose diocese the church stood, and of whose Clergy the party was : by no means could any country parishes in the primitive church, have any Presbyters but from some city, & that not without the liking and assent of the Bishop. Which forced all country towns and villages to matriculate and incorporate themselves into the church of some city, by whose bishop, their Presbyters living, were governed ; and dying, were supplied, even as the churches in cities were. The reason of their doings, is as evident as their fact. For if Bishops were placed by the Apostles hands to ordain Presbyters and contain them in their duties, lest in so great a number emulation might breed confusion, which all the Fathers were fully resolved was the Apostles deed ; they must needs be of opinion, the Apostles meant to have Country Towns and Villages guided and assisted the very same way that they left for Cities ; and the same men that governed the one, all things considered, were the fittest to be trusted with the other.
If you object that the bishops of the Cities could employ no pastoral care, but where they were present ; I answer that all the Councils and Fathers of the Primitive Church were not so ignorant as not to understand what Pastoral oversight a bishop might yield to towns and Churches far distant from him, though he were not present to dispense the word and Sacraments amongst them. To see them always stored with a sound and able Pastor, that should watch over their souls ; to take care that they were rightly taught and soberly guided ; to keep both Presbyters and people from schisms, heresies and open impieties ; to direct in dangers, and determine doubts without troubling the whole province to meet upon every particular occasion and contention ; these be good parts of pastoral vigilancy, and very needful effects of episcopal regiment, which may be performed as well in a Diocese as in a City.
In any man’s harvest he that laboureth himself, and overseeth the rest, doth more good than any other. In each man’s house, the steward that well ordereth and guideth the family is more profitable than any of his fellows. In God’s house and harvest, shall the overlooking of others be counted either needless or fruitless ? Saint Paul himself knew not these curious positions when he appointed Titus to take the charge and oversight of the whole Island of Crete ; and saw no cause why one man might not perform many Pastoral and Episcopal duties to all that were in the same Country with him. But what seek I more examples, when we have the pattern from the Primitive Church that first allotted Dioceses to bishops, and the liking and approbation of all provincial and general Councils that ratified and confirmed as well the partition as distinction of territories, and charged each man’s interest in every diocese to be preserved without infringing any man’s bounds, or encroaching on any man’s right.
[ The need that you pretend of having Dioceses, as well for the guiding as furnishing of country parishes by the Bishops and Presbyteries of the cities, we easily avoid. For in every parish with the Pastour we appoint lay Elders, by whose counsel as Ambrose witnesseth all things should be done in the Church ; and when the former Incumbent is dead, we reserve the electing of a new to the people of the same parish to whom by God’s Law it appertaineth. And here we let you understand that you have not so good warrant for the regiment of Bishops, as we have for the election of Bishops and Pastours by the people. The Scriptures are clear with us ; the fathers often and earnest ; the perpetual use of the Primitive Church is so full with us in this behalf, that no example can be showed to the contrary. Your Bishops therefore being not elected by the people, are no true Pastours in the Church of God. ] I know well you have no other shift to avoid the necessity of Episcopal regiment, but by your lay Presbyteries, and therefore you must cleave to them, or else admit the form of governing the Church by Bishops, to be Catholic and Apostolic, which would grip you to the very hearts. But how far both the word and Church of God are, and ever were from mentioning or acknowledging any lay Elders to be imposers of hands, and governours of Pastoral and Ecclesiastical actions, we have already seen, and may not now regress thither again. Fain would you fasten them on Ambrose, but of all the Fathers he is the unfittest Proctour for your Lay Presbyteries. He brusheth them off as a man would thorns that hang at his heels. If you believe him not alledging the Romans Laws against your Lay Elders, believe him speaking in an open Council against them. 1 Priests ought to judge of Lay men, not Lay men of Priests.
And condemning Palladius the heretic, we are ashamed ( saieth Ambrose ) that he should seem to be condemned of Lay men who challengeth to be a Priest. ( In hoc ipso
damnandus est, quod Laicorum expectat sententiam, cum magis de Laicis Sacerdotes judicare debeant, ) He is worthy to be condemned , that he expecteth the judgement of Lay men, whereas Priests ought
rather to judge of Lay men.
Concil. Aquileiense in condemnations Palladii. Sacerdotes de Laicis judicare debent, non Laici de Sacerdotibus.
To whom the election of Bishops and Presbyters doth rightly belong, and whether by God’s law the people must elect their Pastours, or no.
The want of popular elections is one of the griefs you conceive, and exceptions you take against the Bishops of this Realm ; which quarrel doth not so much touch the office and function of Bishops, as it doth the Prince’s prerogative. Did we teach, it were not lawful for the people to elect their Pastour, you might make some show against us ; now, when we say no such thing, but you rather think, the Prince may not name her Bishops without the consent and election of the people ; you impugn not us, but directly call the Prince’s fact & her laws in question. I take not advantage of man’s law, thereby to decline the force of your reasons or authorities, but to put you in mind, that if there were any defect in the law, it must not be ascribed to Bishops, but imputed rather to the makers of the law. Howbeit, to tell you the truth, I think there will be found better reason for the making and maintaining the law, than you will be able to bring for the repealing or altering the law. For when superstition and blindness wholly possessed the people’s hearts, as in time of Popery ; how could the Prince have restored Religion, or reformed the Church, if the people through the Realm had still been suffered to choose themselves Pastours after their own desires ? The first occasion of the law being good and godly ; what ground have you to dislike the continuance thereof ?
[ Cyprian saieth it is God’s ordinance that the people should elect their Pastour, and 1 according to the divine instruction, the same is observed in the Acts of the Apostles in the choice of Matthias, and of the seven Deacons. ] Those examples I have answered before. It is not written that Matthias and his fellow were chosen by the multitude ; an Apostle might not be chosen by men, his calling must be immediate from God. Yea, the words of the Text are, 2 Thou Lord which knowest the hearts of all men, show which of these twain thou hast chosen, to take the office of this administration and Apostleship. So that thence can nothing be concluded. As for the choice of the seven in the Acts of the Apostles, Epiphanius saith, 3 Of the seventy Disciples were the seven, that were set over the widows. The Council gathered under Justinian, alleging Chrysostom’s words upon that place, concludeth of them in this wise, 4 We therefore denounce that the foresaid seven Deacons must not be taken for those that served at the mysteries, but for such as were trusted with the dispensation of the common necessities of those that were then assembled together.
Jerome alluding to this place calleth a Deacon, 5 the servant of tables and widows. The fourth Council of Carthage, saieth, 6 The Bishop alone shall lay his hands on the head of a Deacon, when he is ordered ; (
quia non ad Sacerdotium, sed administerium consecratur; ) because he is consecrated not to any Priesthood, but unto a service. Your selves give the Deacons no charge in the Church, but the care of the poor ; as persuaded that these seven received none other function at the Apostles hands. You therefore by your own rules are excluded from taking any hold of this election. And indeed since they were not chosen to be Presbyters and dispensers of the word and Sacraments ; what consequent can you frame from their electing by the people, to force the like to be observed in Presbyters and Bishops ?
[ You give them power to preach and baptize ; against you therefore the argument is good. ] The Primitive Church gave them leave so to do in cases of necessity, where Presbyters wanted ; otherwise, neither do we, nor did they make them Presbyters and Ministers of the word and Sacraments. Tertullian saith, 1 Presbyters and Deacons may baptize, with the Bishop’s leave. Jerome saieth, that 2 Presbyters and Deacons in lesser & far distant Towns, did baptize, but not without the Bishop’s license. 3 We appoint the Deacons ( saieth Gelasius ) to keep their own measure, and to enterprise nothing against the tenor of the Canons of our forefathers. Without a Bishop or a Presbyter, let not ( a Deacon ) presume to baptize, unless in their absence extreme necessity compel, which is often permitted unto Lay christians to do.
The church of Rome did not give them leave to baptize, but in cases of necessity when others could not be gotten, as they did Lay men. For my part, though Saint Luke in the Acts do not give them the name of Deacons ; and Chrysostom expressly thinketh they were made 4 neither Presbyters nor Deacons, whose judgement the Council in Trullo followeth ; yet by Saint Paul’s precepts teaching us what conditions he required in those that should be Deacons, I collect their office was not only a charge to look to the poor, but also to attend the sacred assemblies and service of the Church and even a step to the Ministry of the word. Ignatius saith to Heron the Deacon of Antioch, 5Do nothing without the Bishops ; for they are Priests, thou doest but attend on the Priests. They baptize, consecrate the mysteries,
χειροτονοῦσι, χειροθετοῦσι, impose hands to ordain and confirm, thou dost ( in these things ) but minister unto them, as holy Stephen did to James and the Presbyters at Jerusalem. And so Cyprian, 6 The Apostles after the Lord’s ascension into heaven appointed Deacons to attend both on the Church, and on their Episcopal function. Justin Martyr a hundred years before Cyprian, saith of his time ; 7 After the chief amongst us hath given thanks, and all the people said Amen, those that with us are called Deacons give unto every one present, of the sanctified bread and wine ; and carry thereof to such as are absent. The Council of Ancyra willed Deacons that sacrificed unto Idols in time of persecution, 8 to cease from all sacred service in the Church, and neither to deliver the Lord’s bread or cup, or to speak openly to the people ( in time of prayers. )
For I interpret
κυρήσσειν, not to preach, but to command the people silence, attention and devotion, which the Deacons used to do while the divine service was performed at the Lord’s Table. Whatsoever their office was, it is certain, they were not Presbyters and Ministers of the word and Sacraments ; and therefore from the election of those seven in the Acts, to make a general and precise rule for the choice of all Presbyters & Bishops to the world’s end, is but astrain of your forwardness ; it hath neither cause nor consequent in any learning.
[ You make final account of it, but Cyprian esteemed this to be proof sufficient to make it God’s ordinance. You shall hear his words. 1 The people chiefly hath power to choose worthy Priests, and refuse unworthy. The which we see descended from the divine authority, that the Priest should be chosen in the presence of the people under all men’s eyes, and be approved to be worthy and fit by public Judgement and testimony ; as in Numbers God commandeth Moses, saying ; 2 Take Aaron thy brother, and Eleazar his son, and thou shalt bring them to the mount before all the assembly, and put off Aaron’s garments, and put them on Eleazar his son. Before all the multitude God willeth the Priest to be made ; that is, he instructeth and showeth that Priests should not be ordained but with the knowledge of the people standing by ; that by the people present, the offenses of the evil may be detected, or the deserts of the good commended ; and that to be counted a lawful and true ordination, which is examined with the voices and judgement of all, which afterward according to God’s instruction was observed in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter spake to the people of ordaining a Bishop in Judas place. Neither only shall we find that the Apostles observed this in the ordaining of Bishops and Priests, but also of Deacons. Which surely was therefore so diligently and warily done, the whole multitude being called together, lest any not worthy should by stealth get either the place of a Priest, or to serve at the Altar. Wherefore it must be duly retained and kept, as coming from the divine tradition and Apostolic observation, which is used with us and almost in all provinces, that in rightly ordaining, the next Bishops of the same Province resort to the people for whom they ordain a Ruler, and the Bishop to be chosen in the presence of the people, which best knoweth the life of each one, and hath viewed all the manner of his conversation. It is a notable place. I was loath to leave out any, though the words were somewhat long. ] I would as soon have believed your report of the words, had it been true, as your repeating them ; but you have done well to put the matter out of doubt, and somewhat eased me by alleging them. For now I shall not need but to refer you to your own allegation.1 Cypr. lib. 1. epist. 4. 2 Num. 20.
I have much mused with myself, what should lead you to make so great account of this place as you do ; I could never see any such thing as you intend, either contained in the Scriptures, which Cyprian bringeth ; nor expressed in the reason which he giveth for this kind of choice, nor enforced in the heat of those words by which he summeth his collection. The places of Scripture say nothing for your purpose ; Eleazar was not chosen by the people, but expressly by God, and by him alone. Your selves I hope will discharge that quotation, as erroneous and mistaken. There are no such words in the text, as Cyprian citeth, there were no such deeds. God willed Moses to 1 bring Aaron and Eleazar his son up into Mount Hor, ( whither the people neither did nor might ascend, ) and there to put off Aaron’s garments, and to put them on Eleazar his son. And 2 they three went up into the mount Hor in the sight of the Congregation standing beneath ; and only two, 3 Moses and Eleazar ( Aaron dying in the top of the Mount ) came down from the Mount. Whereby all the Congregation saw that Aaron was dead, and they wept for him thirty days. The Congregation did not intermeddle by word or deed with this election ; Eleazar as the eldest son was called for by God to succeed in his father’s place. Out of this you may gather that God advanced the eldest son to have his father’s office ; not that the people elected him : it was not in their power to appoint, who should stand before the Ark to minister unto the Lord.1 Num. 20. vers. 25. 26. 2 verse 27. 3 verse. 28. 29.
The choice of Matthias helpeth you as much, as the apparelling of Eleazar did. I have often said, you may remember it, the people had no power to choose an Apostle, no more than they had to choose Eleazar. He must have his calling from God and not from men ; and so Matthias had. The faithful did all acknowledge, that he was the party whom God had chosen to take Judas place, they did not elect him. The words of Saint Luke are manifest ; 1 Thou Lord show whether of these twain thou hast chosen to take the room of this Apostleship. To the choice of the Seven I have oftentimes spoken, I shall not need to distrust your memory. You have not forgotten the Apostles words to the people ; 2 It is not meet, that we should leave the word of God to serve the tables. They meant not the Lord’s table ; the care thereof the Apostles did not transfer from themselves to any others ; but because the Grecians murmured that their widows were neglected in the daily ministering, that care the Twelve committed to such as the people would like and elect. What can be urged out of these Scriptures, let those that be wise, judge ; my capacity is so slender, that I see utterly nothing evinceable by these examples.1 Act. 1. v. 24. 25. 2 Act. 6. v. 2.
Neither doth Cyprian stretch the places to give the people by God’s law the election of their Bishops ; he saw the precedents would enable no such consequent ; he urgeth by Scripture the people’s presence to this end, that their testimony should be had touching the life and behaviour of the party that shall be chosen, lest an unworthy and wicked person should secretly steal to the office and function of a Bishop. He saith, it cometh from divine authority, 1 that a Priest should be chosen in the presence of the people ; and that ordinations ought not to be made, but with the knowledge of the people standing by. Now why the people should be present, he noteth in these words, that as well the merits of the good might be acknowledged, as the faults of the lewd discovered, by the presence of the people, which knoweth each man’s life most exactly, and hath tried his behaviour by his conversation. Though Cyprian’s proofs do not conclude the people’s presence by God’s law to be required in the choice of Bishops, yet Cyprian’s meaning is very good, and agreeth both with the order of the Primitive Church, and with Saint Paul’s proviso, that a Bishop 2 must be well reported of, even of them that are without, as also that he must be no follower of wine, no fighter, no brawler, no filthy gainer, no desirer of money, but ruling his house honestly, and having his children in obedience ; in effect, one whose life and conversation the whole Church commended, and the adversary could not challenge. Notwithstanding, you may not hence collect that the principal and essential right of electing by God’s law, consisteth in the people’s voices ; you nor no man living can deduce any such thing out of the Scriptures. The Apostle that we read, used no such form of elections, as in the seventh chapter before I was occasioned more at large to show. And since we have neither precept nor example of the Apostles for the people to choose their bishops, I think you will hardly make any demonstration for your popular elections by the Scriptures.1 Cypr. li. 1. epist. 4. 2 1. Tim. 3. v. 7.
[ We have places enough in the new Testament, but that you elevate and elude them ; and besides, we have the general and full consent and use of the Primitive Church, to justify our interpretation of those places to be agreeable to the truth of the word, but sometimes you do allege and esteem the universal custom of the Church and exposition of the Fathers, when they make for you ; and sometimes when they please you not, you reject them as fast. ] Do us no wrong ; we refuse nothing that the ancient and Primitive church of Christ universally observed and practiced as expressed or intended in the Scriptures. It is your manner, it is not ours, to think no churches, councils nor Fathers ever understood the necessary points of doctrine and discipline mentioned in the word before your selves. If the whole church of Christ made any such conclusion out of the Scriptures for the popular election of bishops as you do, we will presently receive it ; if not, stay your vaunts, till you bring their warrants ; and by that time your heat will be well delayed. You show one that after his manner is eloquent and vehement, for that he taketh in hand ; but his proofs are weak, if not mistaken ; his purpose is, to have the people’s presence and testimony to witness their lives that shall be chosen ; his confession is, that this was not general ; though in favour of his cause he saith, It is so observed with us, and almost in all Provinces.
[ The whole Church afterward kept that order in electing their Bishops. ] What course they kept, we shall quickly find ; all the question will be, whether they required the people’s voices as necessary by God’s commandement, which may not be broken, neither for Prelates nor Princes ; or whether they used that kind of election as an order in Christian assemblies fittest to preserve the peace of the Church, and to maintain the good liking of the people towards their Pastors. It shall therefore be best, first to consider, where the holy Ghost layeth the burden and charge of these elections ; then, what freedom the wisdom of God leaveth to the multitude or Magistrates of each City and Country. These things well marked, will deliver us from wandering and erring, as touching God’s ordinance.
The Apostle writing to Timothy and Titus ; first, describeth what manner of men must be admitted to the office of a Bishop ; and then assureth the Ordainers that if they lay hands on any other than on such, they communicate with the sins of as many as they advance unfit for that place. 1 [ Lay hands hastily on no man ; neither be partaker of other men’s sins ; keep thyself pure ]. 2 Let the Bishops hear, saieth Jerome, that have power to appoint Presbyters in every City, with what condition the order of ecclesiastical constitution is tied ; neither let them think they are the Apostles words, but Christ’s. Whereby it is evident, that they which condemning the Apostles precept, give any man an ecclesiastical degree for favour, not for desert, do against Christ.
Chrysostom, 3 Paul meaning to entreat of a Bishop’s office, showeth what manner of man in all things a Bishop must be, not giving it as a warning to Timothy ; but speaking unto all, and by him directing all.
And again upon those words, [ I charge thee before God and Jesus Christ, and the elect Angels, that thou keep these precepts, Lay hands hastily on no man ] , he saith, 4 Paul terrifieth Timothy, and having so done, he mentioneth that which is most needful, and chiefly holdeth the Church together,
τὸ τῶν χειροτονιῶν, even ordination. [ Lay hands hastily on no man, neither communicate with other men’s sins. ] What is hastily ? Not upon the first trial, not upon the second, not upon the third, but oftentimes examining, and exactly sifting the party. The case is dangerous, thou shalt bear the punishments of his sins, who art the occasion of them, for remitting the former offences out of time, thou shalt answer for those that are after committed, as being the cause of them ; and likewise for those that are past, as not letting him alone to lament and repent them.
And Ambrose, Paul 5 chargeth Timothy before God the father, and Christ his son, and the elect Angels. Under this charge he commandeth those things to be kept which pertain to ordination in the Church, lest easily any man should get an ecclesiastical dignity, but inquisition be first had of his life and manners, that a meet and approved Minister or Priest may be appointed ; neither any to be ordained whose faults deserve suspicion, lest the ordainer be defiled with his sins and offences. For he sinneth, which ordaineth, and trieth not.
Oecumenius, where Paul saith to Timothy, 6 [ I prayed thee to stay at Ephesus ], addeth, 7
ενταῦθα δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἐκεχειροτονήκει, there had Paul ordained him a Bishop.
7 [ Let no man despise thy youth ], for a Bishop must speak with authority. 8 He giveth precepts not to Timothy alone, but to every Bishop. And upon these words, [ Lay hands bastily on no man ], 8 Paul treateth of ordinations, for he wrote to a Bishop.
And so writing on the epistle to Titus, he saieth ; Paul 9 left Titus to make Bishops in every City, having first made him a Bishop.
Primasius likewise, 10 Timothy was a Bishop, and Paul’s disciple ; to him by writing he giveth authority to correct all ecclesiastical discipline, and to ordain Bishops and Deacons.
And again, 11 [ Be not partaker of another man’s sins ], Paul saieth. It is a communion with another man’s sins, when one is ordained and not examined. As therefore in ordaining evil men, he is partaker of their sins which ordaineth such ; so in the ordaining of the holy, he is partaker of their righteousness which did make choice of so good men.
The peril of ordaining Bishops and Presbyters by Paul’s own confession, lieth inevitably on such as impose hands ; and therefore by God’s law they must have power to examine who be fit, and liberty to refuse those that be unfit. For as without them there can be none ordained ; so if rashly or corruptly they lay hands on any, they be partakers of their sins.
Primasii praefatioin 1. ad Tim. 11 Idem in 5. ca. 1. ad Tim.
Further, with elections the Scriptures do not meddle, save that Timothy ( as the Fathers affirm by occasion of Paul’s words ) was chosen Bishop by prophecy ; that is, by the direction and appointment of the holy Ghost, and not by voices. Oecumenius, 1 (
πνεύματος γὰρ προστάξει ἐγίνοντο ὁι ἐπίσκοποι, καὶ οὐ χύδην, ) By the commandement, or appointment of the spirit, were Bishops at first made, and not at random. So Theodoret, 2 Thou undertookest this order by divine revelation. Chrysostom, 3 Paul to stir up Timothy putteth him in mind who chose him, and who ordained him, as if he had said ; Thou wast chosen of God, he himself put thee in trust, (
οὐκ ἀνθρωπίνῃ γέγονας ψήφῳ, ) thou wast not made by men’s voices. And Theophilact, 4 Anciently by the oracles & appointment of the Prophets, that is, by the holy Ghost, Priests were straightway ordained. So was Timothy chosen to be a Priest. Ambrose saith, Timothy was 5 predestinated when he was taken by the Apostle, to this end that he should be ordained, as judged worthy to be a Bishop.
This kind of election I take was usual in the Apostles times ; the spirit of God directing them on whom they should lay their hands ; other election of Pastours and Teachers, I read none specified in the sacred writings. Popular election of Bishops I find afterward practiced in the Primitive Church, but not mentioned in the Scriptures ; and therefore well may the people’s interest stand upon the grounds of reason and nature, and be derived from the rules of Christian equity and society ; but God’s law doth not meddle with any such matter, nor determine more than I have told you ; which is, that such Bishops as ordain them shall answer for them with the peril of their own souls, if they do not carefully look into the ability and integrity of all that they authorize with imposition of hands to guide or teach the flock of Christ.
When I say the people cannot challenge by God’s law the right to choose their Bishop, I mean, no such thing is expressed and commanded in the Scriptures ; excluding thereby the false conceits of some fanatical spirits in our days, which affirm our Bishops and Teachers to be no true Pastours, because they are not chosen by the particular voices and personal Suffrages of the people ; and by consequent, our Sacraments to be no Sacraments, and Church no Church ; and so this whole Realm to be drowned in confusion without assurance of salvation ; whose madness is rather to be chastised by the Magistrate, than to be refused by doctrine ; the authors being void not only of learning which they despise, but of reason to weigh what is said against them. Otherwise, I acknowledge each Church and people, ( that have not by law, custom or consent restrained themselves ) stand free by God’s law to admit, maintain, and obey no man as their Pastour without their liking, and so the people’s election by themselves or their rulers, dependeth on the very first principles of human fellowships & assemblees. For which cause though bishops by God’s law have power to examine & ordain, before any may be placed to take charge of souls ; yet have they no power to impose a Pastour on any Church against their wills, nor to force them to yield him obedience or maintenance without their liking. How far authority, custom and consent may prejudice and over-rule this liberty, which God’s law leaveth undiminished, shall anon be handed ; when once we see what order the Primitive Church observed in her elections of Bishops and Presbyters.
The Churches of Christ had anciently two ways to be provided of Bishops and Presbyters. The one, Election ; the other, Postulation. When the Bishop of any City died, whose Church had store of Clergy men to succeed ; 1 the Bishops of the same Province that were nearest to the place, by conference amongst themselves appointed a day to resort thither, and advertised both people and Presbyters thereof. At which time the Clergy and Laity assembling in the Church, so many Bishops as conveniently might ( but under three they could do nothing ) came thither ; and there heard both whom the Clergy named, and whom the City liked. If all, or the most of every sort agreed, the party was pronounced chosen, & another day prefixed to ordain him, the Bishops proposing his name, and the time on the Church doors, and requiring every man that could or would object anything against him, to be then and there ready with his proofs and witnesses. At their next repair, the Bishops that came to give imposition of hands, heard advisedly what each man could charge him with ; and if in their consciences the elect proved to be such as the Apostle prescribed, they ordained him in the eyes of all men Pastour of that Church, and burdened him with the due observation of God’s and man’s laws. If they found any just impediment, they rejected him as unfit, and proceeded to the like election of some other, on whom both Presbyters and Citizens could accord. Alexander Severus the Roman Emperour, did commend and imitate the Christians manner in trying and examining their Presbyters and Bishops. 2 When he would send ( saith Lampridius ) any Rulers to the Provinces, or make Governours, he proposed their names, exhorting the people, that if any could object any crime, they should make just proof ; and used to say it were a shame not to do that in the Rulers of the Provinces, which the Christians did in proclaiming their Priests that were to be ordained.1 Cypr. li. 1. epist. 1. 2 Aelius Lampridius in Alexand. Sever.
When the Cities had not store of Clergy men, or not such as they liked, they were forced to seek a Bishop from another church ; and then did they go to the Bishop of the chief or mother City in the same Province, and of him desired to have such a man for their Bishop ; or else some other, whom the Metropolitan, that is, the Bishop of the mother Church or City should think fit for them. This was called Postulation. Upon their request, the Metropolitan, conferring with the Bishop whose Presbyter was desired, and calling unto him at the least two other Bishops, tried and examined the party liked, after the same manner that others were, and then ordained him ; or if he were rejected, some other likewise tried, and approved to be Ruler of the Church that wanted a Pastour.
And as to keep the people from faction, & the Presbyters from ambition, the Bishops of the same Province were appointed to be present at the choice, & to see the election go forward in Christian and decent manner, without corruption, canvass or tumult : so to restrain the Bishops that they should not disorder the action for hatred or favour of any side, the whole order of their proceeding was to be intimated to the Metropolitan, before they imposed hands ; and if any just complaint were made of their partiality, the Metropolitan had power to stay them from going forward, and with a greater number of Bishops to discuss, and upon cause to reverse the Election. The Council of Nicea willeth 1 a Bishop to be made by all the Bishops of the same Province, and if any difficulty suffer not all to assemble, yet at least three to meet, and the rest by letters to give their consent before the party be ordained. Yea, they made it a clear case, that 2 if any were ordained without the knowledge of the Metropolitan, he should be no Bishop ; as also that if any diversity of judgements grew amongst the Bishops, the voices of the most part should prevail.1 Concilii Nicen. ca. 4. 2 Ibidem ca. 6.
For the making of Presbyters, there did not assemble so many Bishops, since one was sufficient to lay hands on them, howbeit the same order was observed in trying & examining Presbyters that I mentioned before in Bishops ; & the public testimony of the people touching their conversation was not omitted, except the Bishops were so assured of their good behaviour, that they would take it upon the burden of their own souls. 1 Let no man be made a Clergy man ( saith the third Council of Carthage )
nisi probatus vel Episcoporum examine, vel populi testimonio ; unless he be allowed by the examination of the Bishops, or by the testimony of the people. And likewise, 2 The Bishop must not ordain Clerics without the counsel of his Clergy, & have also the assent & testimony of the Citizens. The people might not elect Presbyters, the Council of Laodicea did utterly prohibit it ; 3 The multitude must not make choice of such as shall be called
εἰς ἱερατεῖον, to be Priests :
ἱερατεῖον is either ye place where they sat, or the office which they bore ) yet might they present such as they took to be meet men for that place, to the Bishop, and pray him to examine and allow them according to his discretion ; yea, they were desired by the Bishop to find out such amongst themselves, as they supposed for learning and life to be fit for that calling, though unknown as yet to the bishop, and to offer them, that he with the help of his Clergy might try them whether they were answerable to the Canons of the Church, and worthy that function. So was S. Austen 4 violently caught by the people, when Valerius exhorted them to look out of themselves some meet men to be dedicated to the service of God, and brought to the Bishop to be ordained. The like 5 violence was offered to many by the people, as Austen confesseth. Jerome toucheth this order of presenting by the people, when he saieth to Rusticus, 6 When thou comest to perfect years, and either the people, or the bishop of the city choose thee into the Clergy;
thereby noting that in cities some were assumed by the Bishop ; some offered by the people as meet men to be taken into the number of Clergy men.
In country parishes when they wanted, they desired a Presbyter or Deacon of the Bishop in whose diocese they were ; and he according to their necessities did furnish them out of his own Presbytery, or out of the store of some other Church in his diocese ; and if he were not able to do it, they repaired to the Metropolitan, who did furnish them out of the whole Province. 1 It happeneth often ( saieth Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage in the Council of Africa ) that Churches which want Deacons, Presbyters or Bishops, ask them of me ; and I mindful of the Canons send to the Bishop under whom he is, and acquaint him that his Cleric is desired of this or that Church. And hitherto they have not withstood, but lest hereafter it fall out that they deny me requiring this of them, if I demand any such thing of one of my fellow Bishops with two or three of your place joining with me, and he be irreligious ( and not regard me, ) your charity must determine what I shall do. For you know that I sustain the care of many Churches and ordinations. They answer ; This seat hath had always liberty whence soever to ordain a Bishop that was desired of him, at the instance of any Church. One Bishop may ordain many Presbyters, but a Presbyter meet for a Bishopric is hardly found. Three at least were requisite to impose hands on a Bishop; but any one Bishop might ordain Presbyters, as the ancient Canons of the Church import ; 2 Let a Bishop be ordained by two or three Bishops ; but a Presbyter, Deacon, and the rest of the Clergy by one Bishop.1 Concilii Afric. ca. 56. 2 Canones Apostolici, ca. 1. 2. 1 1. Tim. 5. 2 Leo epist. 89. 3 Ibidem.
The wisdom of God’s Church in taking the consent of the people in the election of their Bishops, I cannot but commend ; I find too great and good effects of it in the Church histories. For thence it came to pass, that the people, when their desires were accomplished, did , and their Pastours ; yea venture their whole estates and hazard their lives, rather than their Pastours should miscarry ; as may be seen by the zeal of the people of Alexandria for 1 Athanasius and 2 Peter, of Cesarea for 3 Basil, of Constantinople for 4 Paul and 5 Chrysostom, and of sundry other places for their Bishops. And could the people as well have tempered their grief, when their affections were over-ruled, as they showed their love, when their expectation was satisfied ; their interest in electing their Bishop had been better regarded, and longer continued : but experience of their factions, schisms, tumults, uproars, murders and what not, if they might not have their wills, caused both ancient Fathers and Councils to mislike that the people bore so great a sway in these elections, and forced Christian Princes, if not wholly to exclude them, yet greatly to abridge them.1 Sozom. li. 6. ca. 12. 2 Socrates, li. 4. ca. 37. 3 Nazianz. oratio in laudem Basilii. 4 Socrat. li. 2. ca. 13. 5 Ibid. li. 6. ca. 16.
Nazianzene reporting the choice of Eusebius to the Bishopric of Cesarea, saieth ; 1 The City of Caesarea was in a tumult about the choice of their Bishop ; and the sedition was sharp and hardly to be appeased. And as the people distracted in many minds, proposed some one, some another, as is often seen in such cases ; at length the whole people agreeing on one of good calling amongst them commended for his life, but not yet baptized, they took him against his will, and with the help of a band of soldiers that was then come to the City, they placed him in the Bishops chair, & offered him to the rest of the Bishops present, & mixing threats with persuasions, they required to have him ordered, & pronounced for their bishop. Thus was Eusebius chosen, or rather forced & intruded against all the canons, yea against his own liking by the heat & intemperance of the people. In electing Basil, the next that succeeded Eusebius, they again fell to another uproar, & stood as stiff against Basil being a most worthy man, as they were heady for Eusebius ; til they were calmed by the wisdom and travail of Nazianzen’s fathers. 2 Again ( saith Nazianzen ) after the death of Eusebius the same City grew tumultuous for the same cause ; & the sedition the ferventer it waxed, the absurder it proved. The like we read and worse of other cities. 3 There kindled a grievous sedition at Antioch ( saith Eusebius ) about the deposing of Eustathuus ; & after when another was to be chosen, the flame thereof so increased that it was like to subvert the whole city ; the people being divided into two parts. The Magistrates of the city supported the sides, & bands of soldiers were mustered, as against an enemy ; and the matter had been tried by the sword, if God and the fear of the Emperour ( writing unto them ) had not somewhat assuaged the rage of the multitude. Eight whole years the place was without a Bishop.1 Nazianz. in epitaphio patris. 2 Ibidem. 3 Euseb. lib. 1. ca. 24. 1 Evagr. li. 2. ca. 5. 2 Ibidem ca. 8. 3 Ruffinus ecclesiast histor. lib. 2. ca. 10. 4 Ammianus Marcellinus lib. 27.
Everywhere seditions increased so fast, that hardly could a bishop be quietly chosen, which made Austen in his lifetime contrary to the Canons to elect his successor. 1 I know ( saith he ) upon the deaths of Bishops, the Churches are usually turmoiled by ambitious & contentious persons, which I have often seen & sorrowed.
Nazianzen seeing their disorder in the choice of Basil, censured popular elections in these words ; 2 It was not obscure who did excel the rest, no more than the Sun compared with the Stars ; but very evident to all others, and specially to the most selected and purest part of the people, I mean the Clergy and our Nazarites, to whom either wholly, or chiefly, such choices ought to be referred ( so should the Churches never take harm, ) and not to to the richest, and mightiest, and to the throng and indiscretion of the multitude, yea even to the basest persons amongst them.
The Emperour at last was forced by public laws to restrain the people, and take the election of bishops from them, and give it to the Clergy and certain chief men of every City. 3
θεσπίζομεν, We decree ( saith Justinian ) that as often as need requireth to ordain a Bishop, the Clergy and principal men of the City ( for which a Bishop must be provided, ) shall meet together and set down in writing three persons, and taking their oath upon the holy Evangel, shall express in their writing, that they have chosen them neither for reward, promise, favour, or any other cause, but knowing the persons to be of the right and Catholic faith, and of honest life, &c. That of those three so named, the best may be ordained at the election and judgement of the ordainer. If any man be ordained a Bishop, and this not observed, we command him by all means to be removed from his Bishopric, and likewise the other, that presumed to impose hands against this our Law.
If three sufficient persons could not be found in the Clergy of that City which wanted a bishop, the Electours might name two, or one ; so it were done within six months, and the men such as the Laws requires, otherwise the Metropolitan to choose for them. A Lay man amongst others the Emperour saith, they might name ; but the Canons did not permit a Lay man to be elected, but only to be desired.
I do not think the people’s presence, or testimony were debarred by this Law ; for that continued a long time after ; I take it rather the Electours might offer none without the people’s liking ; but by this means, the multitude were excluded from electing whom they would ; and the power thereof translated to the Clergy and Governours of each City to name certain, if the people could like of their choice ; otherwise within six months the right to devolve to the chief Bishop of the Province. Then began this rule to be more straightly urged ; 1
Docendus est populus, non sequendus ; the people ( in electing of Bishops ) must be taught and guided ; not obeyed and followed. For Popes themselves could say, though the 2 election belong to Priests, yet the consent of God’s people must be had. 3 When ( saith Leo ) you go about the election of the chief Priest ( or Bishop ) let him be advanced before all, whom the consent of the Clergy and people with one accord desireth. If their voices be divided betwixt twain, let him be preferred before the other in the judgement of the Metropolitan, which hath more voices and merits ; only let none be ordained against their wills and petitions, lest the people despise or hate the Bishop which they never affected ; and they less care for religion, when their desires are not satisfied. The like regard of the people’s desires and petitions was had in Gregory’s time & long after. 4 If it be true ( saith Gregory to Antonius ) that the Bishop of Salona be dead, hasten to admonish the Clergy and people of that City to choose a Priest with one consent that may be ordained for them. And to Magnus about the election of the bishop of Milan. 4 Ward ( saith he ) the 5 Clergy & 6 people that they dissent not in choosing their Priest, but with one accord elect some such as may be consecrated their bishop.
The order of choosing their bishops in the primitive Church by the Clergy and people was never so much respected but that they might many ways forsake and lose their right ; as by petition, when they had none of their own ; by compromise, when they could not agree ; by devolution, when they neglected their time above six months, or transgressed the Laws or Canons either in the form of their election, or in the person elected : specially upon any corruption, disorder, or violence, the election was utterly void, and the parties deprived of all power to elect for that turn. and when they could not agree, they were to send some to the Metropolitan to yield him the reasons of their dissenting on both sides, and he to 1 strike the stroke betwixt them, or else they did refer their consents to two or three that should repair to the chief bishop of the Province, and there make choice, with his advice and consent for the whole city. 2 If you can find ( saith Gregory ) no fit person amongst yourselves on whom you can agree, then choose three wise and indifferent men, and send them to this city, in the name of the whole, to whose judgement the people will stand. And again, 3 Convene the Clergy of the church of Naples, to choose 2. or 3. of themselves, and not to slack to send them hither about the election of their Bishop. And in their certificate to us let them signify, that those whom they send, have authority to supply all their places in this election. So that the people’s right to elect their bishop never depended on God’s express commandment, but on the foundation & reason of human government, & was subject both to the Canons of Councils and laws of Princes, and might be moderated and restrained by either of them, and by the people’s consent, default, or abuse be transferred, relinquished, or forfeited ; and without their wills by superior powers and public Laws for just cause be abridged, altered, or abrogated. For the power & freedom of the people is not only submitted to the sword which God hath authorized, but wholly closed in the sword ; neither is anything lawful for the people ( setting aside the commandments of God, which are subject to no mortal man’s will or power, ) which the laws of their country restrain or prohibit. Wherefore there can be no question, but the people may willingly forsake, and worthily lose the right which they had in the choice of their bishops, and the Prince either way be lawfully possessed of the people’s interest. You must rather if you will needs be so inquisitive, examine the causes that induced the law, whether they were just or no ; and so shall you see whether this manner of election be a wise and good prevention of such corrupt factions, and fearful tumults, as our desperate age would easily breed ; or a rigorous encroachment on the people’s right without cause or consentv; which you cannot offer to think without evident wrong to the Prince and Realm.1 Gregor. epistol. lib. 4. ca. 91. 2 Gregor. epist. lib. 2. ca. 54. 3 Ibidem ca. 74. 1 Matth. 10.
When Valentinian the Emperor, upon the death of Auxentius willed the bishops assembled to elect for the city of Milan, such a one, as should be fit for the place ; 1 the Synod prayed him being wise & religious,
ψηφίσασθαι, to appoint a Bishop. To whom he answered, the matter is too great for me to undertake. You that are vouchsafed of the divine grace, shall better determine who is meet.
When Chrysostom was chosen to be bishop of Constantinople, Sozomene saith ; 2 (
ψηφισαμένον δὲ τοῦτο τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ τοῦ κλήρου, καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς συνῄνει: ) The people & Clergy determining on him, the king approved it ; & sent to fetch him from Antioch. 3 After Sisimius was dead, though many labored to have Philip, others to have Proclus ordained ; yet it seemed good to the powers ( or princes ) to have none of that church advanced to the Bishopric by reason of some vain men, but it pleased them rather to call a stranger from Antioch. Upon the death of Maximian successor to Nestorius, 4 lest again in the election of a bishop variance should arise, and the Church be troubled, the Emperor Theodosius, straitways ( the body of Maximianus not yet being buried ) commanded the Bishops that were present to set Proclus in the episcopal seat. Pelagius being chosen bishop of Rome without the prince’s commandment for that the city was then besieged, and no man could pass through the enemy’s camp, 5 Gregory was afterward sent to excuse the matter & appease the Emperor. (
enim tum a Clero in eligendo Pontifice actum erat, nisi eius electionem Imperator approbasset, ) For then the act of the Clergy in choosing their bishop was void, unless the Emperor approved the election. Gregory that excused Pelagius, witnesseth the like of his own choice, & of sundry others. Of himself he saith ; 6 Lo, my most gracious Lord the Emperor hath commanded an Ape to be made a Lion. Wherefore he must impute all my faults & neg- ligences, not to me ( who was unwilling, ) but to his own devotion, which hath committed the mystery of strength to so weak an one as I am. To all the bishops of Illyricum he writeth ; 7 Because I understand by your letters, that the consent of you all, & in the person of John our brother and fellow-Bishop, I greatly rejoice. To the Emperor Mauritius he saieth ; 8 It can be no small thanks with God, that John of happy memory being taken out of this life, your godliness about the appointing a Bishop, stayed a great while, deferred the time, and sought advice in the fear of God. Wherefore I think my brother and fellow-Bishop Cyriacus to be very fit for the Pastoral regiment, whom your holiness preferred to that order after so long consultation.
Neither had the Roman Emperors this authority to dash elections, and appoint bishops only at Rome and Constantinople ; other places were in like subjection to them ; and though their care were not so great for the smaller cities, which were innumerable, as for the principal Sees, where themselves lived, & whither they often resorted ; yet their right was alone in greater & lesser Churches. If the chiefest bishops might not be chosen without the Emperour’s consent, the meaner places had neither by the Canons, nor by the Scriptures any more freedom from the Prince’s power than the greater. So that what superiority was then acknowledged and yielded by the greatest and chiefest Churches as due to Christian Emperors in the elections of bishops ; the same could by no means be denied them over other Churches though the Princes themselves sometimes neglected, and sometimes refused to be troubled with the choice of so many thousand Bishops, as were under their territories. And therefore Adrian Bishop of Rome was not the first that did grant and give this right to the Empire, as some Romish histories would fain enforce ; it was received in the Church of Christ many hundred years before Adrian was born, and used as well by other Christian kings in their realms, as by the Emperour in his dominions. The Pontifical itself 580. years after Christ noteth it as a new and strange accident, that Pelagius the second 1 was chosen Bishop of Rome without the Emperour’s commandment : and giveth this reason, for that the Longobards then besieged the City ; and Gregory the first of that name that next succeeded after Pelagius, two hundreth years before Adrian confirmeth it to be true by report of 2 his own election ; and Gregory of Turon living at the same time, and whose Deacon was present at Rome when Gregory the first was elected, 3 witnesseth as much in the tenth book of his history and first Chapter.1 Ex libro Pontifical. in vita Pelagii 2. 2 Gregor. epistol. lib. 1. ca. 5. 3 Gregor. Turonens. lib. 10. ca. 1.
Wherefore Adrian did but either continue or renew this right, when the Empire was translated unto Charles the great, and ratified it, with a curse on the transgressours ; he did not then first grant it ; the Roman Emperours long before enjoyed it. 1 Adrian and a Synod ( of one hundred fifty three Bishops and Abbots ) defined that the Archbishops and Bishops of every Province should take their investiture from Charles, so as unless he were commended ( or allowed ) & invested by the king, he should be consecrated Bishop by no man ; and whosoever did against this decree, they did wrap him in the band of excommunication. Leo the eight in another Synod more than 130 years after Adrian, 2 with the Clergy and people of Rome, did reknowledge and confirm unto Otho the first of that name, king of the Germans, and to his successors, in the kingdom of Italy for ever, power to choose and appoint the Bishop of the Apostolic See ( of Rome ) and consequently Archbishops and Bishops, that they should receive investiture from him. So that if any were chosen Bishop by the Clergy and people, except he were also approved & invested by the said king, he should not be consecrated. Which privilege to 3 give Bishoprics and Abbeys by a ring and a staff, continued in the Roman Emperors more than 300. years after Charles, and was restored to Henry the fifth 1111. years after Christ by Paschalis the second, and not afterward wrested from him & his successors by the bishop of Rome, but with extreme treachery, bloodshed and violence.1 Dist. 63. § Adrianus. 2 Dist. 63. § In Synodo. 3 Sigebert. Chronicon in an. 1111.
As the Emperours of Rome used this superiority in elections of bishops four hundred years before Charles ; so the kings of France continually practiced the same three hundred years before the Empire came to their hands. After Licinius the ninth bishop of Turon, 1 in the tenth place Theodorus and Proculus were surrogated by the commandment of Queen Chrodieldis wife to Chlodoveus the first christian King of France. 2 The eleventh was Dinifius, who came to the Bishopric by the election of the said king. The twelfth 3 was Ommatius, who was ordained by the commandment of king Clodomere one of Chlodoveus sons. At Arverne four years after Chlodoveus death, 4 Theodoric ( another of his sons ) commanded Quintianus to be made Bishop there, and all the power of the Church to be delivered unto him, adding, he was cast out of his own City for the zeal and love he bore to us. And the Messengers straitway departing, called the Bishops and people together, and placed him in the chair of the Church of Arverne. And when 5 Quintianus was dead, Gallus by the king’s help was substituted in his chair. After whose decease 6 Cato elected by the Clergy and most part of the people, bore himself for bishop ; but when king Theodovaldus heard it, 7 certain Bishops were called unto Mastright, and Cautinus ordained Bishop, and directed by the king’s commandment to Arverne, was gladly received of the Clergy and Citizens there. The same Cato was afterward chosen by the precept of King Chlotharius to the bishopric of Turon ; for so the Clergy told him ; 8 We desired thee not of our own wills, but by the king’s commandment ; which he refused, and thereupon they of Turon suggested another to the King ; to whom the king replied, 9 I commanded that Cato the Presbyter should be ordained Bishop there, and why is our commandement despised ? They answered, We requested him, but he would not come. And while they were with the king, Cato himself came and besought the king, that Cautinus being removed, he might be placed at Arverne. At which the king smiling, he then secondly requested he might be ordained at Turon, which before he had neglected. To whom the king said, I first commanded, they should consecrate you to that Bishopric : but as I hear you despised the place, and therefore you shall be far enough from it. When Pientius bishop of Poiters was dead, Austraphius hoped to succeed in his place. 10 But king Charibert ( one of Chlotharius sons, ) turned his mind, and Pascentius succeeded by the king’s commandment. The like precepts of divers christian kings of France, 1000. years before our days for the making of 11 Jovinus, 12 Domnolus, 13 Nonnichius, 14 Innocentius, 15 Sulpitius, 16 Promotus, 17 Nicetius, 18 Desiderius, 19 Gundegisilus, 20 Virus, 21 Charimeres, Fronimius and other bishops of France in sundry churches of that realm, he that liketh to see, may read in the history of Gregory made Bishop of Turon before Gregory the first was placed to the See of Rome. By which it is evident, that other Princes besides the Roman Emperours, have from their first profession of Christianity, not only ruled the elections of Bishops as they saw cause, but appointed such as were meet for the places to be consecrated, without depending on the voices of the people, or Clergy.1 Gregor. Turonens. hist. lib. 10. ca. 31. 2 Idem lib. 3. ca. 17. 3 Idem lib. 3. ca. 17. 4 Idem lib. 3. ca. 2. 5 Idem lib 4. ca. 5 6 Idem li. 4 ca. 6. 7 Idem lib. 4. ca. 7. 8 Idem li. 4. ca. 11 9 Idem li. 4. ca. 15 10 Idem li. 4 ca. 18. 11 Idem li. 6. ca. 7. 12 9. 13 15. 14 38. 15 39. 16 lib 7. ca. 17. 17 lib. 8 ca. 20. 18 22. 19 39 & li. 9. ca. 20 23. 21 24.
And what should hinder christian Princes to take this right into their own hands from the people ; since there is no precept in God’s Law to bind the church that the people should elect their bishops ; and consequently the manner of electing them must be left to the laws of each Country, without expecting the people’s consent : Bullinger a man of great reading and judgement alleging both the examples of the Scriptures and the words of Cyprian, which are before repeated at large, and also the use of the primitive Church in choosing their Bishops, concludeth thus ; 1 Notwithstanding I would not collect by these, that the right to choose a Bishop, should be recalled to the voices of the people. Whether it were meeter to have a bishop appointed by the assembly of the whole church, or by the suffrages of a few, there can be no certain rule prescribed to all Churches. For divers Countries have different Laws and customs. But if any tyrannically abuse ( their right ) they may be punished by the godly Magistrate, or the right of electing taken from them. For it were better that some grave men by the Magistrates or the king’s commandment made the election, calling to them and consulting with such as know what belongeth to the function of a bishop, what is fit for the people and church where he shall be placed, and how to judge of every man’s learning and manners.1
Bullingerus de episcoporum institutione & functione lib. 2. ad Henricum octavum Angliae regem.
Beza that holdeth hard for discipline, giveth over popular elections as no part of God’s ordinance ; and confesseth that in Geneva itself, though their state be popular, yet they allow the people no such power. 1 The erecting of the Deaconship ( saith he ) was essential, & never to be abrogated in the church of God. And the manner of appointing ( some ) for that function in the Church, to wit, by election, was likewise essential ; but that the whole multitude was called together & gave their voices, that was neither essential, nor perpetual. For after, when experience taught that confusion & ambition rising by occasion of the multitude increased, was to be prevented ; the Synod of Laodicea being indeed but provincial, yet approved by the sixth Oecumenical council, prudently took order by their 13. canon, that the election of such as were chosen to the sacred ministry, should not be permitted to the multitude, or to the people : not as if the whole Church ought not to be acquainted with sacred elections and to allow them, but for that a mean therein is to be observed ; the prerogative being yielded to assembly of Pastours ; and the second place to the liking of the godly magistrate ; and lastly, the people to be certified openly of the whole matter ; and leave given them, if they have any reason of dissenting, to propose their causes orderly. Which course being hitherto religiously and wisely observed in this City, when one Morellius a fanatical spirit in favor of the people presumed to reprehend, his writing was worthily condemned both in this church, and in many Synods of France. The choice of the seven in the Acts maketh no perpetual nor essential rule for elections in the Church of God. The Council of Laodicea did well and wisely prohibit the people to have the choice of such as should be called to the sacred ministry. The Pastors elect, the magistrates consent, & open report there of is made to the people ; and if they have any just cause to alleg against the parties chosen, they must propose and prove their exceptions ; and when Morellius would have challenged more interest than this for the people in the election of their Pastours, his opinion was condemned both by the censure of Geneva, and by the Synods of France. All this is confessed by Master Beza’s own testimony.1 In responsione ad tractationem de Ministrorum Evangelii de gradibus ca. 22. fol. 154. & 155.
We differ, you think, in some points from the manner of Geneva : we have great reason so to do. They live in a popular state ; we in a kingdom. The people there bear the chiefest rule ; here the Prince : and yet there the people are excluded from electing their Pastors. If the multitude have any cause to dislike, their allegation is heard and examined by the Pastours and Magistrates, but they have no free power to frustrate the whole by dissenting, much less to elect whom they like. Now that our state hath far better cause to exclude the multitude from electing their Bishops, than theirs hath, is soon perceived. The people there maintain their Pastours ; our Bishops are not chargeable to the Commons, but endowed by the liberality of Princes, without any cost to the multitude. Their Pastours are chosen out of the same City, and their behaviour known to all the Inhabitants ; our Bishops are taken from other places of government, and not so much as by name known to the people, which they shall guide. With us therefore there is no cause why the people should be parties, or privy to the choosing of their Bishops ; since they be neither troubled with the maintaining of them, nor have any trial, or can give any testimony of their lives and conversations ; which were the greatest reasons that inclined the Fathers of the Primitive Church to yield so much unto the people in the choice of their Bishops. And lastly, if Princes were not heads of their people, and by God’s and man’s law trusted with the direction and moderation of all external and public government, as well in Religion as in policy, before, and above all others, which are two most sufficient reasons to enforce that they ought to be trusted with elections, if they please to undertake that charge, whereof they must yield an account to God ; yet the people of this realm at the making of the Law most apparantly submitted and transferred all their right and interest to the Prince’s Judgement and wisdom ; which lawfully they might, and wisely they did, rather than to endanger the whole commonwealth with such tumults and uproars as the Primitive Church tasted of, and lay the gap open again to the factions and corruptions of the unsettled and unbridled multitude.
[ Think you all corruptions are cut off by reserving elections of Bishops to Princes? ] Factions & tumults I hope you will grant are by that means abolished and utterly extinguished. As for bribery, howsoever ambitious heads and covetous hands may link together under colour of commendation to deceive and abuse Princes ears, yet reason and duty bindeth me and all others, to think, and say, that Prince’s persons, are of all others farthest from taking money for any such respects. The words of Guntchrannus, Chlotharius son, & king of France more than a thousand years ago, make me so to suppose of all Christian and godly Princes ; who when Remigius bishop of Bourges was dead, and many gifts were offered him by some that sought the place, gave them this answer ; 1 It is not our princely manner to sell Bishoprics for money, neither is it your part to get them with rewards, lest we be infamed for filthy gain, and you compared to Simon Magus. In meaner persons more justly may corruption be feared than in Princes ; who of all others have least need, and so least cause, to set Churches to sale. Their abundance, their magnificence, their conscience, are sureties for the freedom of their choice. And therefore I see no reason to distrust their elections as likelier to be more corrupt, than the people’s. It is far easier for ambition to prevail with the people than with the Prince. And as for the meetness of men in learning and life to supply such places, Princes have both larger scope to choose, and better means to know who are fit than their people. For since Bishops are not, and for the most part cannot be chosen out of the same Church or City ; what course can the people take to be assured of their ability or integrity, whom they neither live with, nor whose doctrine or manners they are any whit acquainted with ?1 Gregor. Turonici historia Francor. lib. ca. 39.
This difference betwixt our times and the former ages of the Primitive Church while some mark not, they cry importunely for the people’s presence and testimony in the choice of Pastors ; never remembering, the people before there were any Christian Magistrates, must needs have greater interest in the election of their Pastours than afterward they could have : and when godly Princes began to intermeddle with Ecclesiastical matters, the people’s testimony was still required, because the parties chosen conversed always with them even in their eyes and ears, whereby they could witness the behaviour of the electees to be sincere and blameless ; which in our days is clean otherwise, by reason the Universities and other places of the Realm train up men meet for Episcopal charge and calling, and not the same Churches and Cities where they shall govern. 1 The people’s presence ( saith Jerome ) is required in ordaining a Priest ( or Bishop ) that all may know and be sure, that out of the whole people, the better, the holier, the learneder, the higher in all virtue ; even he is chosen to the Priesthood, the people witnessing as much for that is it which the Apostle commandeth in the ordaining of a Priest, saying, he must have a good testimony of those that are without.1 Hierony. caus. 8. quest. 1. § licet.
If this were the reason, why the people were called to the election of their bishops ; then the cause ceasing, why should not the effect likewise cease? If they can give no testimony, ( as in our case they cannot, ) what needeth their presence ? If the authority of the people were requisite to place their pastour, as when there was no believing prince happily it was ; in that respect also the Magistrate is more sufficient than the multitude to assure the election, and assist the elect. If consent be expected, lest any man should be intruded upon the people against their wills ; the people’s consent is by the public agreement of this realm yielded and referred to the prince’s liking. If judgement to discern between fit men and unfit be necessary ; I hope the gravity and prudency of the Magistrate may worthily be preferred before the rashness and rudeness of the many, that are often led rather with affection than with discretion, and are carried with many light respectes and lewd means as with faction and flattery, favour and fancy, corruption and bribery, and such like baits, from which Governours are, if not altogether free, yet far freer than the intemperate and unruly multitude. And so take what respect you will, either of or of fit passours, and you shall find the choice of bishops lieth more safely in the prince’s than in the people’s hands.
[ The Clergy used to discern and elect, the people did like and allow their Pastours. And to say the truth, men of the same profession, if they be not blinded with affections, can best judge of each man’s fitness. ] Indeed the Canon Law ruleth the case thus ; 1 (
Electio clericorum est, consensus Principis, petitio plebis, ) Clergy men must elect, the Prince may consent, the people must request ; and the late bishops of Rome never left cursing and fighting, til they excluded both prince & people ; and reduced the election wholly to the Clergy, whom they might command at their pleasures ; but by your leave, it was not so from the beginning. The form of election prescribed by the Roman laws 1000. years since, willed 2 the Clergy the governors or chief men of the city to come together, & taking their oaths upon the holy gospel,
ψηφίσματα ποιεῖν, to decree, ( that is to elect or name ) 3. persons ; of which ye ordainer was to choose ye best at his discretion.
The fullest words that the ancient Greek Writers use for all the parts of election, as to propose, to name, to choose, to decree, are in the histories ecclesiastical applied to the people. When Eudoxius of Constantinople was dead, and the Arians had chosen Demophilus in his place ; the Christians there as Socrates writeth 1 chose one Evagrius. Sozomene saieth 2 they decreed Evagrius to be their bishop. Nazianzen speaking of the election of Eusebius, saith ; 3 the people were divided into many sides, some naming one, and some another ; ( which word also 4 Socrates useth of the people in the choice of Ambrose ) and repineth that in his time 5 the first naming of the bishop was permitted to the heady and undiscreet multitude. At the choice of Paulus to the Bishopric of Constantinople, Socrates saith 6 the people were divided into two parts, and the Omousians elect Paulus to the Bishopric. The Council of Nicea was content that such as were ordained by Miletius, should be reordered, and placed in the counts of other bishops that died, 7 if they were found worthy, and the people elected them. Upon the death of Auxentius at Milan, 8 the multitude, saith Sozomene, fell to sedition, not agreeing on the election of any one. When Nectarius was dead, and Chrysostom chosen in succed him, Sozomene saith, 9 the people and Clergy decreeing it, the Emperour consented. Socrates saieth he was chosen 10 by the common decree of the Clergy and people. Upon the depriving of Nestorius, 11 many named Philip, but more chose Proclus. And Proclus election had prevailed, had not some of the mightiest pretended a Canon against him, that being named Bishop of one City, he could not be translated to another. 12 Which being heard and believed forced the people to hold their peace. So that in the primitive church the people did propose, name, elect and decree as well as the Clergy ; and though the Presbyters had more skill to judge, yet the people had as much right to choose their Pastour ; and if the most part of them did agree, they did carry it from the Clergy ; so the persons chosen were such as the Canons did allow, and the ordainers could not justly mislike.1 Socr. li 4. ca. 14. 2 Sozo. li. 6. ca. 13. 3 Nazianz. in epitaph. patru. 4 Socr. li. 4. ca. 30. 5 Nazianz. ut supra. 6 Socr. lib. 2. ca. 6. 7 Socr. lib. 1. ca. 9. 8 Sozomen. lib. 6. ca. 24. 9 Sozom. lib. 8. ca. 2. 10 Socr. li. 6. ca. 2. 11 Socrat. lib. 7. ca. 35. 12 Socrates ibid.
If it seem hard to any man that the people in this point should be preferred as far forth as the Clergy ; let him remember the Apostles in the Acts, when they willed the Church at Jerusalem to choose the seven, that undertook the care of the widows ; did not make any special remembrance or distinction of the seventy Disciples from the rest, who were then present, and part of that company ; but committed as well the discerning as electing of fit men in common to the whole number of brethren ; reserving approbation and imposition of hands to themselves. For 1 calling the multitude of Disciples together, they said, consider of seven men of your selves that are well reported of, and full of the holy ghost, and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. And they chose Steven ( and the other six ) whom they set before the Apostles. Since then the Apostles left elections indifferently to the people and Clergy of Jerusalem ; if you make that choice a president for elections, what warrant had the Bishop of Rome to exclude them ? If their unruliness deserved afterward to have their liberty diminished, or their sway restrained ; that belonged not to the Popes, but to the Princes power. And therefore he was but an usurper in taking it both from Prince and people without their consents ; and christian Princes use but their right, when they resume elections out of the Popes hands, & by conference with such as shall impose hands on them within their own realms, name whom they think fit to succeed in the episcopal seat. So did the ancient Emperors and Princes that were in the primitive church as I have showed.1 Act. 6.
[ They never took the whole into their hands, but only gave their consents before the election could take place. ] It was a most tedious and troublesome work for one man to name and elect all the Bishops in the Roman empire. And therefore the Emperours left the Magistrates of each City to perform that care together with the Clergy, thereby easing themselves of infinite labour and danger ; yet where occasion so required, they showed what right they had to elect and name such as should govern the Churches. When Nazianzene had resigned and relinquished the bishopric of Constantinople to the Fathers assembled in the second general Council, Theodosius the elder 1 commanded the Bishops to give him the names of such written in a paper, as every of them thought fit to be ordained, reserving power to himself to choose one out of that whole number. The Bishop of Antioch ( being the chiefest man then present ) put their names in writing, whom he and the rest thought fittest ; and in the last place set Nectarius to gratify Diodorus Bishop of Tarsus, that had commended him for his gravity and person, though otherwise unknown. 2 The Emperour reading the Catalogue of those that were written, stood at the name of Nectarius, and holding his finger there, read them all over again, and at length choose Nectarius. Every man marveled and asked who this Nectarius was, and of what profession, and of what place. And understanding that he was not yet baptized, they marveled the more at the Emperour’s judgement. Diodorus himself understood not so much, for had he known it, he durst not to have given his voice to one unbaptized to be made a Bishop. The Emperour hearing that he was not yet baptized, stood in his resolution, notwithstanding many Bishops laboured against it. And so was Nectarius baptized, and while he was in his christening vesture, declared to be Bishop of Constantinople by the common decree of the Council. The people intermedled not with this choice, the Bishops named every man his 3 friend whom he sought to prefer. Nectarius came by chance to know whether Diodorus would any thing unto Tarsus, whither he was then travelling, who fell on the sudden in liking with him being an ancient and grave man, but had no further knowledge of him, and showed him to the Bishop of Antioch, praying him to remember the man, when he wrote the names for the Emperour. The Bishop of Antioch 4 derided the conceit of Diodorus, by reason many worthy men were nominated for this election, and for fashion’s sake to please Diodorus, placed Nectarius last. The Prince not knowing the one nor the other, fastened on his name, and would not be removed, though by the Canons he could not have been elected, and many Bishops bent themselves to alter the Emperour’s mind. This election was made wholly by the Prince, not only without the Clergy and people, but against both the Canons and the liking of the Bishops then assembled ; and yet the general Council took it to be their duties to pronounce him and ordain him Bishop of Constantinople according to the Emperour’s choice.1 Sozom. li. 7. ca. 8. 2 Ibidem. 3 Socrates, li. 7. ca. 7. 4 Ibidem. 1 1. Tim. 5.
[ The ancientest laws of our Country witness that Elections were free from 1 force, fear or entreaty of all secular powers ; and the kings of this Realm consented it should be so. ] As ancient laws of this Realm as those, witness that the kings of England had the gift and collation of bishoprics and other dignities of their advowry, before free election was granted. And when Princes first yielded that the Clergy should make free elections, they restrained them to these conditions, that they should ask license of the king to choose, and when their election was made, it was not good without the royal assent. The statute of Provisors of benefices made at Westminster the 25. of Edward the 3. will tell you so much ; the words be : 2 Our sovereign Lord the King and his heirs ( in case the Bishop of Rome do intermeddle against the law ) shall have and enjoy for the time the Collations to the Archbishoprics and other dignities elective, which be of his advowry, such as his progenitors had before that free election was granted, sithence that the first elections were granted by the king’s progenitors upon a certain form and condition ; as to demand license of the king to choose, and after the election, to have his royal assent, and not in other manner ; which conditions not kept, the thing ought by reason to resort to his first nature. By which it is evident, the kings of England had right to confer bishoprics and other dignities, before free elections were granted, and when they granted free elections should be made, they did never dispossess themselves of these two prerogatives : First, that the king’s license must be asked to choose ; and next, the king’s consent to make the election good ; yea, Henry the first, the Conqueror’s son, sent the Pope word in great earnest, that 3 he would not lose the investiture of his Churches, not for the loss of his kingdom. And so neither Clergy nor people had ever any right in this realm to choose their bishops since the kings of this land began to endow them with lands and livings for the ease of their people, and benefit of their Church, but by the king’s grant, and with the king’s leave & consent. For God’s law prescribing no form of elections, it is most clear by the laws of this realm, that princes being the first founders of Churches and endowers of bishoprics have had, and ought to have the 1 custody of the same in the vacancy, and the 1 presentments and collations of those Prelacies, as Lords and Aduowees of all the lands and possessions that belong either to Cathedral Churches or Bishops.1 Articuli Cleri, ca. 14. & Westminster the 1. ca. 5. 2 Statutum de Provisoribus beneficiorum apud Westminster. an. 25. Edward. 3. 3
Matthaeus Parisiensis in Henrico1. an. 1103. 4 Magna charta, ca. 5. 5 In parliamento Edwardi 1. apud Kaerlile, 25. regni sui, citatur 25. Edwardi 3. in Statuto de Provisoribus apud Westminster.
If you speak of former ages when as yet Bishops lived on the oblations of the faithful ; I have then likewise showed by the example of Theodosius and others, twelve hundred years ago, that Princes though not as Patrons, yet as higher powers made elections of Bishops as they saw cause ; and though they did not reserve all elections to their personal and royal assent, yet in their steads the 1 Magistrates and chief men of each City were to consent, before the election could be good ; yea, they were to 2 make the election jointly with the Clergy, as we find confirmed by the Roman laws.1 Theodoret. li. 4. ca. 20. 2 Nouella constitutio. 123. 1 Magna Charta. ca. 33. & 2 13. 3 Statutum de Marlebridge. 4
Ansegisus legum Franciae, li. 1. ca. 84.
Statutum est ut sine authoritate & consensu Episcoporum, Presbyteri in quibuslibet ecclesijs nec constituantur nec expellantur.
In Spain, about the 7. year of king Reccesiunthus, and the 654. year of Christ, the Council of Toledo made this Canon ; 1 We decree, that as long as the founders of Churches remain in this life, they shall be suffered to have the chief and continual care of the said places, and themselves shall offer meet Rectors unto the Bishop, to be ordained in those very Churches. And if the Bishop, neglecting the founders, shall presume to place any others ; let him know that his admission shall be void and to his shame, others shall be placed in their steads, even such as the founders shall choose being not unworthy. Long before this, the Roman laws determined the like throughout the Roman Empire. 1 If any man build a Church or house of prayer, and would have Clerics to be placed there, he or his heirs ; if he allow maintenance for those Clerics, and name such as are worthy, let them be ordained upon his nomination. But if such as they choose be prohibited by the Canons as unworthy, then let the Bishop take care to promote some, whom he thinketh more worthy.1 Concilii Toletani, 9. ca. 2.
atque Rectores idoneos in eisdem basilicis ijdem ipsi offerant Episcopo ordinandos.1 Nouella constitutio. 123. ca. 18.
This law giveth two reasons for Patronages, which I take indeed were the very grounds of that interest they have at this day ; to wit, building the Church, & maintaining the Ministers. Before the law for Tithes was made in Cities, the Clergy lived off the voluntary Oblations and Donations of the faithful ; in country villages the lord of the Soil was left to his discretion to yield what allowance he thought good out of his land for the maintenance of the Minister ; the rest of the inhabitants being but his husbandmen and servants, had neither wealth to build Churches, nor right to give any part of the fruits and profits of their lord’s land. So that either Churches must not at all have been built in country towns, or the lords of each place were to be provoked to the founding of Churches, and allowing convenient proportions with the honour and preeminence to dispose their own to their liking.
Neither do I see anything in God’s law against it. For when you affirm the people should elect their Pastor, I trust you do not include in that word children, servants, beggers or bondmen ; but such as are of discretion to choose, & ability to maintain their Pastor. Put then the case, which was in the Primitive Church when the villagers & husbandmen of each place had no state nor interest in the lands which they tilled, but served the lord of the Soil, & had allowance for their pains out of the fruits of the earth at his pleasure ; what assurance or maintenance could those men yield unto their Pastors ? Call to mind but the conquest of this land, when there was neither free-holder, nor copy-holder, but all bond besides the lord ; who could then elect a Cleric, but only the lord of the place, since no man was free but he alone ? Wherefore Patronages & Presentations are far ancienter in this & all other Christian realms, than either the liberty or hability of husbandmen & copy-holders ; and when the lords of villages having erected churches, & allotted out portions for divine service, made afterward some free, & some bond tenants ; did either God’s or man’s law command or intend, that their latter grants should overthrow their former rights ? That which hath so many hundreth years been settled and received by the laws of all nations, as the remembrance & inheritance of the first Founders or Donours of every Church, shall a few curious heads make the world now believe it is repugnant to the law of God ? By your eager impugning of Patronages, without understanding either the intent, or effect of them, wise men may soon see what soundness of judgement the rest of your discipline is likely to carry.
To close up this question, if the allowance given at first to the ministers of each parish by the lord of the Soil, were matter enough in the judgement of Christ’s Church, to establish the right of Patrons that they alone should present Clerics, because they alone provided for them ; the Prince’s interest to confer Bishoprics hath far more sound and sufficient reason to warrant it. For besides the maintenance which the kings of this land yielded, when they first endowed bishoprics with lands and possessions, to unburden their people of the support and charges of their Bishops ; & in that respect have as much right as any Patrons can have : the preeminence of the sword whereby the Prince ruleth the people, the people rule not the Prince, is no small enforcement, that in elections, as well as in other points of government, the Prince may justly challenge the sovereignty above and without the people, God’s law prescribing no certain rule for the choice of Bishops ; the people may not challenge the like without or against the Prince. And lastly, though the people in former ages, by the sufferance of magistrates, had somewhat to do with the elections of their Bishops ; yet now for the avoiding of such tumults and uproars as the Primitive Church was afflicted with, by the laws of this Realm and their own consents, the people’s interest and liking is wholly submitted and enclosed in the Prince’s choice, so that whom the Prince nameth, the people have bound themselves to acknowledge and accept for their Pastour, no less than if he had been chosen by their own suffrages. And had they not hereunto agreed, as by Parliament they have ; I see no let by God’s law, but in Christian kingdoms when any difference growth even about the elections of Bishops, the Prince as head and Ruler of the people hath better right to name and elect, than all the rest of their people. If they concur in judgement, there can be no variance ; if they dissent, the Prince ( if there were no express law for that purpose, as with us there is ) must bear it from the people ; the people by God’s law must not look to prevail agaynst their Prince.
[ If we might safely do it, we could object against the Princes giving of Bishoprics, that Athanasius saieth, 1 (Where is there any such Canon, that a Bishop should be sent out of the palace? ) And the second Council of Nicea allegeth an ancient Canon against it, 2 ( All elections of Bishops, Presbyters or Deacons made by the Magistrate, are void by the Canon which saieth ; If any Bishop obtain a Church by the help of the secular Magistrate, let him be deposed and put from the Lord’s table, and all that communicate with him. ) The Council of Paris likewise in earnest manner, 3 ( Let none be ordained Bishop against the wills of the Citizens, but only whom the election of the people and Clergy shall seek with full affection. Let him not be intruded by the Prince’s commandement, nor by any other means against the consent of the Metropolitan & the Bishops of the same Province. And if any man by overmuch rashness presume to invade the height of this honour by the Prince’s ordination, let him in no wise be received by the Bishops of the same Province.) ] Rules of discipline be not like rules of doctrine. In Christian faith whatsoever is once true, is always and everywhere true ; but in matters of ecclesiastical government, that at some times, and in some places might be received and allowed, which after and elsewhere was happily disliked and prohibited. If any Father or Council affirm, that by God’s law the people have right to elect their Bishop, the Prince hath not ; the assertion is so false, that no man need regard it. No proof can be made, that the people have by the word of God an essential interest in the choice of their Pastours. If we speak of man’s law ; what some Councils decreed, other Councils upon just cause might change ; and what some Princes permitted, their successours with as great reason might recall or restrain, as the variety of times and places required. Of Councils S. Austen saieth ; 4 Who can be ignorant that general Councils are often amended, the former by the latter, when by the experiment of things, that is opened which before was hid, and seen which before was not perceived, and that without any smoke of sacrilegious pride, obstinate arrogance, or envious contention: Of Princes edicts I take the case to be so clear, that no man doubteth whether human laws may be altered or no. All Princes have the sword with like commission from God, and bear their scepters with one and the same freedom that their progenitors did. As they may with their own liking abridge themselves of their liberty ; so may they with the advice and consent of their state resume the grants of former Princes, and enlarge the privileges of their royal dignity as far as God’s law permitteth.1 Epistola Athanasii ad solitariam vitam agentes. 2
Nicenae Synodi2. ca 3. 3 Concilium Parisiens. 1. ca. 8. 4 August. de baptis. contra Donatist. li. 2. ca. 3.
For answer then to your authorities, I say : First, Athanasius and the other two Councils might speak of those times, when as yet christian Princes had not revoked elections of Bishops to their own power, but by their public laws commanded their Clergy and people to make choice of their Pastors. And in that case, he that contrary to the positive laws of any kingdom or commonwealth made secret means or procured to be placed by the private letters of Princes against the open laws of the Realm where he lived, was an ambitious & violent intruder, and not worthy to bear the name of a Pastor & Bishop in Christ’s Church. Next, Athanasius and the rest may speak not of election, but of examination & ordination, which by God’s law is committed to Bishops, & not to Princes ; and then their meaning is, It is not sufficient for a Bishop to have the Prince’s consent & decree ; he must be also examined and ordained by such as the holy Ghost hath appointed to impose hands on him, which no man may omit though he be never so much allowed & elected by the Princes, & so both their words & proofs seem to import.1 In epistola ad solitariam vitam agentes. 2
Nicenae Synodi2. ca. 3. 3 Concilii Parisiens. ca. 8. 4 Apostolorum ca. 30.
The meeting of Bishops in Synods, and who did call and moderate those assemblies in the Primitive Church.
THe necessity and authority of Synods, is not so much in question betwixt us, as the persons that should assemble and moderate those meetings. The disciplinarians themselves, if I be not deceived, are far from making their Pastours or Presbyteries in every parish supreme judges of doctrine and manners without all exception or revocation ; and we be further. For what if the Pastours or Presbyters of any place maintain heresy or offer injury, which are cases not rarely incident, but everywhere occurrent even in those that bear the names of Christians ? Shall impiety and injustice so reign and prevail in the Church, that none may withstand it, or redress it ? That were to make the house of God worse than a den of thieves ; for thieves fear the detecting, and fly the punishing of their offences ; which many Presbyters would not, if there were no way to restrain and overrule their pestilent and wicked purposes. Wherefore, as in civil affairs there are Laws and Powers to uphold justice, and prohibit violence ; without the which, human societies could not consist : so in the Church of Christ, when it is without the help and assistance of a Christian magistrate, there must be some external and judicial means to discern errour, and redress wrong, in case any particular person or Church be infected or oppressed ; otherwise, there is no possibility for truth and equity to harbour long amongst the sons of men.
The remedy which the Primitive Church had, and used against heresy and injury, she derived as well from the promise made by Christ’s own words, as from the example of the Apostles in the like case. Christ willing such of his Disciples as were grieved by their brethren, after the first and second admonition, to tell it to the Church ; addeth for the direction and confirmation of all religious assemblies and conferences ; 1 Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them ; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose in earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Whether the name of the Church in this place he taken for the assembly of Elders and Rulers under Moses law, or of Pastours and Teachers under the Gospel, to me it is indifferent ; this is evidently the order, which our Saviour willeth to be observed ; from private admonition to go to witnesses, and from witnesses to assemblies. So the word
ἐκκλησία doth most plainly signify ; and so the promise annexed doth clearly import ; where two or three are assembled together in my name, I am in the midst of them.
Neither could any other course be established in the Church. For since an end of controversies must be had amongst men, lest perpetual contention bring final confusion, and pluck up the very roots of all charity and equity from amongst men, when neither private persuasion, nor friendly mediation can appease the parties contending ; what other order could be prescribed, but a Judicial hearing and determining of things in question ? Now Judges must needs be either single or assembled ; and single Judges of force must either be Sovereign and supreme Judges, or else under superiours appointed by the same warrant. The Bishop of Rome claimeth a single and sole commission to hear and conclude all causes, concerning either faith or right ; and were his proof as good, as his challenge is proud, it were worth the discussing. But the more he claimeth, the more he sinneth, by reason he taketh unto himself without commission, an infallible and inevitable judgement over all men and matters upon the face of the earth, that any way touch the truth or the Church. Princes are single and sovereign Judges of earthly things, and when they believe, the defence and maintenance of the Church and faith is by God himself committed to their power and care ; but Christ did not settle the sword to be the general and perpetual rule to govern his Church. For then without a Prince there could be no Church ; and consequently, neither in the Apostles times, nor three hundred years after, had Christ any Church here on earth, since none of the Roman Princes that were lords of the world, publicly maintained the Christian faith before Constantine.
Since we find no single nor supreme Judges, on whom the Church of Christ must always depend for the debating and ending of ecclesiastical strifes and contentions ; of necessity there must either be none, which were the utter subversion of all peace and order amongst the faithful, where there wanteth a Christian Magistrate ; or else the Pastours and Stewards of Christ’s Church, to whom the care and charge thereof is committed, must assemble together, and with mutual conference and consent, perform those duties to the Church in general, which otherwise they do to each particular place and person. For though Pastours be affixed to their places and charges, yet that doth not hinder the common care they should have of all the members of Christ’s body ; and therefore when need so requireth, they must as well employ their travel abroad, as bestow pains at home, to direct or pacify the household of faith. This brotherly kind of succouring and assisting each other in troubles and dangers, is sometimes performed by letters, but never so thoroughly and effectually, as by meeting and assembling together, when with deliberate and full advice, they may hear and determine what they think meetest for the safety and quietness of the Church of God.
Their warrant so to do, is builded on the main grounds of all divine and human societies, strengthened by the promise of our Saviour, and assured unto them by the example of the Apostles and perpetual practice of the Church of Christ. By God’s law what obedience and reverence the father may expect from his children, the same or greater must all believers yield to the fathers of their faith. They are comprised in the same name, and in the same commandment with the fathers of our flesh, and consequently must have the same honour. And if the fullness of each man’s reward must be according to the excellency of his labour ; they that beget us, nourish us, and continue us in Christ, deserve far greater honour, than they that bring us into this world, and provide only for the things of this life. Again, the Church is the body of Christ, and in that respect, as in our bodies, so in his, not only the members have a common care for the whole, but the principal parts must direct and guide the rest ; namely, the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the mouth to speak for the whole body. Such therefore as Christ hath placed to be the 1 watchmen & leaders, 2 the light and salt of his Church, must not only warn and guide, but also lighten and season in their measure the whole body. For what commission they have from Christ severed & single in their proper charges, the same they must needs retain assembled and joined throughout their circuits. Yea, the Lord so much tendereth the fatherly care, and brotherly concord of the Pastors of his Church, that he hath promised to be present in the midst of their assemblies, and with his spirit to direct them, so they come together, not to accomplish their own lusts and desires, but to sanctify his name by detecting errour, resisting wolves, maintaining truth, curing the sores and maladies that pester and poison the members of his body.1 Hebr. 13. 2 Matth. 5. 1 Celestini epistola ad Concilium Ephesinum. 2 Relatio Synodi Chalcedonens. ad Leonem actione 3. 3 Concil. Toleta. 3. ca. 2.
This course the Apostles taught the Church of Christ to follow by their example, when about the question that troubled the Church of Antioch, 1 the Apostles and Elders came together to examine the matter, and to verify their master’s words to be true ; not only the Apostles, but the whole assembly wrote thus in their letters ; 2 It seemed good to the holy Ghost & to us. For if it be sure what the Apostle said, 3 the holy Ghost made you overseers to feed the Church : And if our Saviour could not be deceived when he said, 4 he that heareth you, heareth me ; &c., this must be verified as well of Pastors assembled, as singled ; yea, Pastors gathered together in Christ’s name, are rather assured of his direction and assistance, than when they be severed, 5 unless there be any that thinketh God inspireth one particular person with righteousness, and forsaketh a number of Priests assembled in Synod ; which the Council of Africa reputeth to be very absurd and repugnant to Christ’s promise, so long as they meet together in his name, and not to deface his truth, nor oppress their brethren.1 Act. 15. 2 Ibidem, v. 28. 3 Act. 20. 4 Luc. 11. 5 Concil. Africa. ca. 138. epistola ad Celestinum.
This hath in all Ages, as well before, as since the great Council of Nicea been approved and practiced as the lawfullest and surest means to discern truth from falsehood, to decide doubts, end strifes, and redress wrongs in causes ecclesiastical ; yea, when there were no believing magistrates to assist the Church, this was the only way to cleanse the house of God, as much as might be, from the loathsome vessels of dishonour ; and after Christian Princes began to profess and protect the truth, they never had, nor can have any better or safer direction amongst men, than by the Synods of wise and godly Pastours. A Synod at Antioch about three score years before the Council of Nicea, condemned and deposed Paulus Samosatonus for heresy ; and when he would not yield the Church, but kept it by violence ; upon complaint made to Aurelianus the Emperour, though he were an Ethnic, Samosatenus 1 was with extreme shame driven from the church by the worldly Prince. Three score and ten years before that, many Synods were assembled in divers places for the keeping of Easter, as in 2 Palestine under Theophilus and Narcissus ; in 2 Rome under Victor, in 2 Pontus under Palinas, in 2 France under
Irenaeus, in 3 Asia under Polycrates. The like we find in the days of Dionysius Bishop of Alexandria, of 4 Cornelius Bishop of Rome, of 5 Cyprian Bishop of Carthage ; and the like no doubt was observed in all Ages of the Church even from the beginning, as necessity forced, and the safety of the time permitted.
Legum Franciaeli. 1. ca. 13. 3 Ibidem ca. 127.
[ We never meant to deny the authority or use of lawful Synods ; we confess 1 they are a sure remedy against all confusion : but this we dislike, that you give the power to call Synods from the Magistrate to the Metropolitan, thereby maintaining a needless difference amongst Bishops, and suffer none but such as you term Bishops to have voices in Councils, whereas every Pastour and Preacher hath as good right to sit there, and by consent and subscription to determine, as they have. ] What right we yield to Christian Magistrates to call Synods within their Territories, shall soon appear ; in the meantime you must tell us, who called Synods in the Primitive Church before Princes favoured Christian Religion. Was it done by Magistrates, who then were Infidels ? Or by Metropolitans ? And when Princes protected the truth, did they moderate provincial Councils by their substitutes ? Or was that charge committed to the Bishop of the chief and mother Church and City in every province ? You challenge to be men of learning and reading ; speak of your credits, who called in ancient times provincial Synods, or at any time who moderated them besides Metropolitans ? If your Presbyteries by God’s essential and perpetual ordinance must have a President to rule their actions for avoiding of confusion ; how can Synods be called & governed without one to prescribe the time and place, when and where the Pastours shall meet ; and when they are met, to guide and moderate their assemblies ? Perceive you not that men living in divers cities and countries, and assembling but seldom, have more need of some chief to call them together, than those that live in one place and every day meet ? And if confusion and disorder in Presbyteries be pernicious to the Church, is it not far more dangerous in Synods ? Wherefore you must either clean reject Synods, and so make the Presbyters of each parish supreme and sovereign Judges of all Ecclesiastical matters ; or if you receive Synods, you must withal admit some both to convocate and moderate their meetings.1 De Ministrorum evangelii gradibus. ca. 23. fol. 159.
[ The Magistrate may call them together ; and themselves, when they are assembled, may choose a director & guider of their actions. ] But when the Magistrate doth not regard but rather afflict the Church, as in times of infidelity and heresy, who shall then assemble the Pastours of any province to deliberate and determine matters of doubt or danger ? Shall error and injury overwhelm the church of God without any public remonstrance or refusance ? In questions of faith, cases of doubt, matters of faction, offers of wrong, breach of all order and equity, shall each place and Presbytery be free to teach and do what they please, without depending on, or so much as conferring with the rest of their brethren ? Call you that the discipline of Christ’s Church, and not rather the dissolution of all peace, and subversion of all truth in the house of God ? I think you be not so far besides yourselves, that you strive for this pestilent kind of anarchy to be brought into the world. Our age is giddy enough without this frenzy to put them forward. Howbeit we seek not what new course you can devise after fifteen hundred years to govern the Church : but what means the ancient and Primitive Church of Christ had, before Princes embraced the truth, to assemble Synods, and pacify controversies as well touching religion as Ecclesiastical regiment, and if in the Church histories you find any other besides Metropolitans, that called and governed Provincial Councils, name the men, and note the places, and we yield you the prize.
[ Metropolitans were first established, if not devised by the Council of Nicea ; before that, we read nothing of any Metropolitan. ] If that were their first original, they need not be ashamed of it. All Christendom these twelve hundred years hath reverenced and followed the decrees and judgement of the Nicene Fathers ; the founders of your new discipline compared with them in antiquity and authority, come a great way behind them : but if you look better about you, you shall find that Metropolitans are far elder than the Nicene Council. They are not devised, but acknowledged in the Council of Nicea by these words ; 1
τὰ ἔθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτο, Let the ancient usage continue still in Egypt, Libia & Pentapolis, that the bishop of Alexandria have
τὴν ἐξουσίαν power ( and authority ) over all these places. Likewise at Antioch and in other provinces, Let the churches keep their prerogatives. What those prerogatives were, which anciently belonged to the Metropolitan Churches and their Bishops ; though the Council doth not express them all, yet these two are there mentioned. In the 4. Canon, 2 The chief authority ( or ratification ) of things done, must belong in every province to the Metropolitan. And in this very Canon the next words are ; 3 In all places ( or provinces ) this is evident, that if any man be made a bishop without the knowledge ( or consent ) of the Metropolitan, this great Council determineth he must be no Bishop. So that neither could Synods be called, nor Bishops ordained without the Metropolitan, by the Canons of the Nicene Council, & their power & prerogative within their own province began not first in that Council, but is there witnessed to be
ἀρχαῖον ἧθος, an ancient use, & as they speak in the 7. Canon,
παράδοσις ἀρχαῖα, an ancient tradition.
The Council of Antioch that assembled fifteen years after the Council of Nicea, concluded as much as I do out of the Nicene Canons ; 1 A Bishop must not be ordained without a Synod, and the presence of the Metropolitan ; the Bishops of each Province to make a Synod, the Metropolitan by his letters must call together. 2 It is very requisite that in every Province Councils be kept twice in the year ; to the which Presbyters, Deacons, and all others that think they have wrong, may repair to receive justice from the Synod. It is not lawful for any to assemble Synods of themselves, without those to whom the mother Cities are committed. 3 For that is a perfect Council where the Metropolitan is present. What power the Metropolitan had above the rest, they likewise express. 4 The Bishops of every province must agnise the Metropolitan to have the oversight and care of the whole Province. Wherefore we think it meet, that in honor he be before them, & the rest of the bishops do nothing without him, according to the canon of our fathers that hath anciently prevailed, but only such things as pertain to their own ( charge and ) Diocese. Further they shall enterprise nothing without the Metropolitan, nor the Metropolitan without the consent of the rest. The general Council of Ephesus affirmeth, that Metropolitans had their preeminence from the beginning of the Church, 5 It seemeth good to this sacred & Oecumenical Council to reserve unto every province untouched and undiminished the rights which they have had
ἐξ αρχῆς ἄνωθεν, from the first beginning, every Metropolitan having liberty to take the copy of our Acts, for his own security, according to the use anciently confirmed. These 3. Councils confess, that Metropolitans were no late nor new device, first authorized by the Council of Nicea ; but their right and preeminence was an ancient usage and Canon of the Church even from the beginning.
Now that all Christendom ever after the Nicene Council embraced this kind of government by Metropolitans, is a case so clear, that no shift can refuse it. The second Council of Arles in France that immediately followed the Council of Nicea, saith ; 1 (
Nullus episcopus sine Metropolitani permissa, nec Episcopus Metropolitanus sine tribus Episcopis com- provincialibus praesumat Episcopum ordinare, ) Let no Bishop presume to ordain a Bishop without the permission of the Metropolitan, nor the Metropolitan himself without three Bishops of the same Province. 2 For this is first evident, that he which is made a Bishop ( sine conscientia Metropolitani ) , without the consent of his Metropolitan, he ought to be no Bishop, according to the great Council of Nicea. And so for Synods, 3 The Synod shall be assembled at the discretion of the Bishop of Arles, and if any being summoned cannot come by reason of sickness, he shall send another to supply his place. 4 But if any shall neglect to be present, or depart before the Council be dissolved, let him know he is excluded from the communion of his brethren, and may not be received, unless he be absolved in the next Synod. The Council of Laodicea in Phrygia, 5 Let Bishops be appointed to the regiment of the church by the judgement of the Metropolitan and the Bishops adjoining ; & 6 being called to the Synod, they must not neglect it, but go thither and teach or learn ( what is requisite ) for the direction of the Church and the rest of their brethren. The second Council of Carthage in Africa, 7 We all think good, that ( the Primate of every Province being not first consulted, ) no man presume though with many Bishops in what place soever without his precept to ordain a Bishop. But if necessity force, three Bishops wheresoever with the Primates precept may ordain a Bishop. The fifth Council of Carthage, 8 We think good that the Primates of every Province be written unto, that when they assemble Councils in their own Provinces, they hinder not the day ( limited for the general meeting. ) The Milevitane Council ; 9 Aurelius ( Bishop of Carthage ) said ; This is a common cause, that every one of us should acknowledge his order allowed him by God, and the lower Bishops yield to those that are above them, and not presume to do anything without them. Wherefore they which attempt to do ought without regard of their superiors, must be accordingly repressed by the whole Synod. All the Bishops answered ; This order hath been kept by our fathers and forefathers, and by God’s grace shall be kept of us.
The Council of Rhegium in Italy, 10 The ordination which the Canons define to be void, we also determine to be frustrate, wherein since there were neither three present, nor the Letters of the Comprovincial Bishops, nor the Metropolitan’s good will obtained, there was utterly nothing that should make a Bishop. And again, 11 Let no ( Bishop ) repair to the Church, which hath not her chief priest, except he be invited by the letters of the Metropolitan, lest he be circumvented by the people. The Council of Tarracon in Spain, 12 If any Bishop warned by the Metropolitan, neglect to come to the Synod, except he be hindered by some corporal necessity, let him be deprived of the communion of all the Bishops until the next Council, as the Canons of our fathers have decreed. The Epaunine Council. 13 By an immutable constitution we first decree, that when the Metropolitan shall think good to call his brethren the Bishops of the same Province either to a Synod, or to the ordination of any of his fellow Bishops, none shall excuse without an evident cause.
The like, as well for ordaining of Bishops, as calling of Synods by the Metropolitan, may be seen in the Councils of Agatha, ca. 35. Of Taurine, ca. 1. Of Aurelia the second, ca. 1. 2. The fifth, ca. 18. Of Turon the second, ca. 1. 9. Of Paris, ca. 8. Of Toledo the third, ca. 18. The fourth, ca. 3. And in divers others. All which testify that as the Metropolitan’s power in the government of the Church was a thing received and confirmed by use long before the Nicene Council ; so it continued throughout Christendom till the bishop of Rome wholly subverted the freedom of the church, and recalled all things to his own disposition.
[ The power of Metropolitans was rather lengthened, than shortened by the Bishop of Rome. For who suppressed Provincial Synods, and brought Bishops and Archbishops to this height of pride they are at, but only the Romish Decretals of Antichrist ? ] If your wisdom serve you to call that Antichrist’s pride, whereto godly councils were forced for their own ease, & wherewith religious Princes were contented for the better execution of their laws ; my duty to the church of God and the magistrate stayeth me from reviling or disliking that course, which I see both Councils and Princes by long and good experience were driven unto. As for Antichrist, he usurped all men’s places, and subjected all men’s rights to his will and pleasure ; otherwise I do not find, what increase he gave to the power of Metropolitans. Let them enjoy that which the councils and princes of the Primitive church by trial saw needful to be committed to their care ; and we strive for no more. I trust you will not call that Antichristian pride when they are required by christian Princes to see their Laws and Edicts touching causes Ecclesiastical put in practice.
[ The fault we find is, that Archbishops have suppressed the liberty of Synods, and reserved all things to their own jurisdiction. ] A greater fault than that is ; you be so inflamed with disdain, that you know not what you say. Who, I pray you, prohibiteth the use, or abridgeth the power of Synods to make rules & determine causes ecclesiastical ? The Metropolitan, or the Prince ? Take good heed, lest by eager and often calling for the indiction and decision of Synods at the Metropolitan’s hands without the prince’s leave, you erect a new form of Synods, not to advice & guide the Magistrate, when they be thereto required, but to straighten or forestall the Prince’s power. True it is, that with us no Synods may assemble without the Prince’s warrant, as well to meet, as to consult of any matters touching the state of this Realm ; and why : They be no Court separate from the prince, nor superiour to the Prince, but subjected in all thinges unto the Prince, and appointed by the Laws of God and man in truth and godliness to assist and direct the Prince, when and where they shall be willed to assemble. Otherwise they have no power of themselves to make decrees, when there is a christian Magistrate, neither may they challenge the judicial hearing or ending of Ecclesiastical controversies without or against the prince’s liking. Now judge your selves whether you do not grosely betray your own ignorance, I am loath to say malice, when you declaim against the Metropolitan for want of that which is not in his power to perform but in the prince’s ; and be more silent hereafter in these cases ( if you be wise ) lest you traduce the Prince’s power under the Metropolitan’s name. If waspishness would suffer you soberly to consider, not only what things are changed in our times, but also why, and by whom ; you should better satisfy your selves, and less trouble the realm than now you do.
Before princes began to profess christianity, the church had no way ( as I noted before ) to discuss right and wrong in faith, and other ecclesiastical causes, but by Synods and assemblies of religious & wise pastors. That course always continued in the church ( even when the sword most sharply pursued the church ) from the Apostles deaths to Constantine’s reign ; and was ever found in the church, when christian Princes were not. Those Synods were assembled and governed by the Bishops of the chief and mother churches and cities in every province, who by the ancient Councils are called Metropolitans. When princes embraced the faith, they increased the number of Synods, and confirmed not only the canons of general Councils ; but also the judgements and decisions of provincial Synods, as the best means they could devise to procure peace, and advance religion in every place. For as by their laws they referred Ecclesiastical causes to Ecclesiastical Judges ; so lest matters should hang long in strife, they charged eache Metropolitan to assemble the Bishops of his Province twice every year, and there to examine and order all matters of doubt and wrong within the Church. The rules of the Nicene Council, touching that and all other things, Constantine ratified as Eusebius witnesseth, and likewise the sentences of Bishops in their Synods, kept according to that appointment. 1 The decrees of the Nicene council Constantine confirmed with his consent seal ( or authority. ) And reporting the laws made by him in favour of Christians, Eusebius saith ; 2 The determinations of Bishops delivered in their Synods he sealed ( or ratified ) that it might not be lawful for the Rulers of Nations to infringe their decrees, since the Priests of God ( as he thought ) were more approved or better to be trusted than any Judge. Yea whatsoever is done in the holy assemblies of Bishops, 3
τοῦτο πρὸς τὴν θείαν βούλησιν ἔχει τὴν ἀναφοράν, that ( saith Constantine ) must be ascribed to the heavenly will or counsel of God. Concerning the four first general Councils, Justinian saith, 4 We decree that the sacred Ecclesiastical rules, which were made and agreed on in the four first holy Councils, that is, in the Nicene, Constantinopolitane, Ephesine, and Chalcedon, shall have the force of Imperial Laws. For the rules of the four above named Councils we observe as Laws.
In tract of time, when causes multiplied, and Bishops could neither support the charge they were at in being abroad, nor be absent so long from their Churches, as the hearing and concluding of every private matter would require ; they were constrained to assemble but once in the year, and in the mean space to commit such causes as could abide no such delay, or were too tedious for their short meetings, unto the hearing and judgement of the Metropolitan or Primate of the province & country, where the strifes arose. The Council in Trullo saith ; 1 The things which were determined by our sacred Fathers we will have to stand good in all points, and renew the Canon, which commandeth Synods of Bishops to be kept every year in every Province, where the Metropolitan shall appoint. But since by reason of the invasions of the Barbarians, and divers other occasions, the Governors of the Church cannot possibly assemble in Synod twice every year ; we decree, that in any case there shall be a Synod of Bishops once every year for Ecclesistical questions likely to arise in every Province, at the place where the Metropolitan shall make choice. The second Nicene Council, 2 Where the Canon willeth, judicial inquisition to be made twice every year by the assembly of Bishops in every Province ; and yet for the misery and poverty of such as should travel, the Fathers of the sixth Synod decreed, it should be once in the year, and then things amiss to be redressed ; we renew this later Canon : insomuch, that if any Metropolitan neglect to do it, except he be hindered by necessity, violence, or some other reasonable cause, he shall be under the punishment of the Canons. The Council of Africa, 3 The decrees of the Nicene Council did most plainly leave, both inferiour Clerics and Bishops . They did wisely and rightly perceive, that all causes ought to be ended in the places where they did first spring. For they did not think any Province should be destitute of the grace of the holy Spirit, whereby justice should be prudently discerned, & constantly pursued by the Priests of Christ ; specially when as every man hath liberty, if he find himself grieved with the censure of those that examine his cause, to appeal to the Synods of the same Province, or to a general Council. And again, 4 It hath pleased us that Presbyters, Deacons, and other inferiour Clergy men, if they complain of the judgements of their own Bishops, shall be heard by the Bishops adjoining. And if they think good to appeal from them, let them not appeal but either to the Synods of Africa, of their own Provinces. So the Council of Sardica, 5 If a Bishop in a rage will by and by cast a Presbyter or Deacon out of the Church, we must provide, that being innocent, he be not condemned, nor deprived the communion. All ( the Bishops ) answered ; Let him that is ejected have liberty of that Province. The Emperor confirmed the same, 6 If the Bishops of one Synod have any matter of variance betwixt themselves, either for Ecclesiastical right or any other occasions ; first the Metropolitan with other Bishops of that Synod shall examine and determine the cause ; and if either part dislike the judgement, of that Diocese shall give them audience , neither side having liberty to contradict his judgement. But if any of the Clergy, or whosoever complain against his Bishop for any matter, , answerable to the sacred Rules and our Laws. And if any man appeal from his sentence, let the cause be brought & Patriarch of that Diocese, and he according to the Canons and Laws shall make a final end.1 Concil. in Trullo. ca. 8. 2 Synod. Nicen. 2. ca. 6. 3 Concil Africani. ca. 138 in epist. ad Celestinum. 4 Concil. Africani ca. 127. & ca. 28. 5 Concil. Sardicens. ca. 14. 6 Nouella constitutio 123. ca. 22.
So that not Antichrist, but ancient Councils and Christian Emperours perceiving the mighty troubles and intolerable charges, that the Bishops of every province were put to by staying at Synods for the hearing and determining of all private matters & quarrels occurrent in the same Province ; and seeing no cause to busy and employ the bishops of the whole world twice every year to sit in judgement about petite and particular strifes and brabbles, till all parties were satisfied, but finding rather, that by that means all matters must either be infinitely delayed, or slenderly examined, and hastily posted over ; as well the Princes as the Bishops, not to increase the pride of Archbishops, but to settle an indifferent course both for the parties and the Judges ; referred, not the making of Laws and Canons, but the execution of them already made to the credit and conscience of the Archbishop. And though the Fathers leave an appeal either to the Councils, or to the Primates of every Nation and Country ; yet the Emperour seeing how long causes would depend before Councils could duly examine and determine them ; and that to bring all private matters from Provincial Synods to National Councils, were to breed a worse confusion than the former was ; decreed that all appeals should go to the Archbishop.
[ We could devise many ways to prevent all this that you object, if we might be suffered. For we would have standing Synods in every City that should consist of the Pastors, and some grave & wise Lay Elders there dwelling to determine matters emergent within a circuit to be appointed unto them ; and from them appeals to be made to the Synod of Pastours and Elders residing in some Principal and chief City within this Realm ; so that unless the matter were of very great weight, the Pastours at large should not be troubled to assemble together ; and when they assembled, their abode not to be long, for saving of time and charge ; which men of their calling neither should lose, nor can spare ; lest we busy them rather as Judges of men’s quarrels, than Stewards of God’s mysteries. ] The chief ground of your Discipline is your own device, as may well appear in that no part of it is ancient, or was ever used in the Church of Christ ; and the joints of it hang together like sick men’s dreams. The Pastours and Lay Elders of every Church served at first to fill up your Presbyteries ; and now your vessels are so low drawn, that you use them for Synods. And where you could not abide, that Bishops should have Dioceses ; now you be pleased, that Presbyteries shall have circuits, and Ecclesiastical regiment, without their Church and City. Metropolitans were not long since the height of Antichrist’s pride ; and now you are forced for repressing of disorders and enormities in every parish, to allow some chief and mother Cities ; and to yield their Presbyteries Metropolitical jurisdiction over whole provinces. And all this, your selves being private men, take upon you to devise and establish without precedent to induce, or authority to warrant your doings ; and yet you think it not lawful for the Prince and the whole Realm to imitate the example of the Primitive Church, nor to follow the steps of religious and godly Emperours, that appointed Metropolitans to call and moderate provincial Councils ; and for ease of all sides, to examine such matters beforehand as were not worthy to molest and trouble full Synods. Wherein, what else do you, but show your inconstant and inconsiderate humours ; that would have the Church guided by Presbyteries and Synods parochial and provincial, and admit Presidents and chief Governours of either ; and yet cannot abide that Princes should retain the ancient and accustomed form of Ecclesiastical regiment by Bishops and Metropolitans, settled so long ago in the Church, and ever since continued without interruption ? But I pray you, what places or voices have Lay Elders in Synods ? What example or reason can you pretend for it ?
[ If they may judge in Presbyteries, why not in Synods ? Belike you would have none but Bishops have decisive voices in Councils according to the Romish order of celebrating Synods. ] If you were as far from novelty, as I am from Popery, we should soon agree ; howbeit every thing used or believed in the Romish Church is not rashly to be disclaimed. You make it a resolute conclusion, that Lay Elders were part of the Presbyteries in the Primitive Church ; but when we come to examine your proofs, we find them as weak, as your imagination is strong. Now though the Pastours of each parish, when they are single, might happily need, as you think, the advice and assistance of Lay Presbyters ; yet that Pastours assembled in Synods, where their number is great, & their gifts of all sorts, should stand in like need of Lay Elders to lead or direct them, is neither consequent to reason, nor coherent with the rules of the sacred Scriptures. For to whom hath the Lord committed 1 the teaching of all Nations ? To pastors, or to Lay Presbyters ? Who by God’s law are appointed 2 watchmen in the house of Israel, 3 Stewards over his family, 4 Bishops over his Church, and 5 Leaders of his flock ? Lay Elders, or Christ’s Ministers ? If in the Church the sheep must 6 hear and follow their shepheards, as well for truth of doctrine as holiness of life ; by what commission bring you Lay Presbyters into Synods, where the Teachers and Pastors of an whole province or nation are assembled ? Shall your Lay Elders by Christ’s commandement be scholers in the Church, and teachers in the Synod ? Or do the gifts and graces of preachers so change, that in pulpit each one must be believed and obeyed, in Council all joining together must be restrained and directed by Lay Elders ? If you have reason or authority for it ; let us hear it : if neither ; you trouble the Church of God with a pang of your willful contradiction, and take upon you to over-rule Christian princes and churches with greater surliness, than ever did Patriarch or Pope.1 Matth. 28. 2 Ezech. 3. 3 1. Corinth. 4. 4 Act. 20. 5 Heb. 13. 6 John. 10.
[ In the Apostles Council were not only the 1 Presbyters, but all the brethren of the Church of Jerusalem, and the letters of resolution, were written in all their names : and now you disdain that any Lay men should be present at your Provincial Synods and Councils, which you see the Apostles did not refuse. ] To be present at Synods is one thing : to deliberate and determine in Synod is another thing. If you think that either Presbyters or Brethren were admitted to the Apostles Council to help and aide the Apostles in their debating or deciding the matter there questioned, you be much deceived. The Apostles singled, were sufficient to decide a greater doubt than that was ; much more then, the whole assembly of the Apostles able to search out the truth thereof without their assistance. The reason why all the church was admitted to be present & to join with one accord in sending those letters, I noted before. Not only the gainsayers, but the whole Church were to be resolved in a case that touched them all. Otherwise as well the people as the teachers of the Jews would still have abhorred the Gentiles, though belevers, as profane persons, until they had been circumcised, which was the high way to evacuate the cross of Christ, and to frustrate his grace. And therefore not for deliberation, or for determination, but for the satisfaction of contradictors, and instruction of the rest was the whole Church assembled, and upon the full hearing and concluding of the question by the Apostles, the rest joining with them acknowledged by their letters and messengers that it pleased the holy ghost, the Gentiles should not be troubled with circumcision nor the observation of Moses Law ; but that the partition wall betwixt them was broken down, by the blood of Christ, and they which were 2 Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel & strangers from the covenants of promise, were now citizens with the Saints, & of the household of faith, without the legal observances of Moses Law. S. Luke himself witnesseth, that to 3 discuss the matter, the Apostles and Elders assembled together, and after great disputation on either side, Peter and James concluded the cause, whereto the rest consented.1 Act. 15. 2 Ephes. 2. 3 Acts 15. vers. 6.
[ Yet then Elders were admitted to deliberate with the Apostles in that Synod, whereas you suffer none but Bishops to have voices in Councils. ] I make no doubt but Presbyters sat with the Apostles in Synod to consult of this cause : all the scruple is, what kind of Presbyters they were. Lay Presbyters I read of none, & therefore I can admit none to be of that Council. Besides, such of the seventy and such other Prophets, as assisted James in the regiment of the church of Jerusalem, are in all reason expressed by that name. For since the whole church there is divided into Apostles, Presbyters, and Brethren ; the helpers & coadjutors of the Apostles, were they Prophets or Evangelists that either came with Paul & Barnabas from Antioch, or were commorant with James & the rest at Jerusalem, must rather be contained in the name of Presbyters, than sorted with the general multitude. For if they were of the many, what men of more worthiness were there to be honored with the title of Presbyters ? I hope the next degree to Apostles are not your Lay Elders ; S. Paul was then foully overshot, to set 1 first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly Teachers, and to reject Governours, which you take for your Lay Presbyters, into the 7. place. Howbeit unles you make some fresher and better proof for them, than yet I see ; your Lay Elders are no where numbered by S. Paul for church governors.1 1. Corinth. 12.
As for Presbyters that were beneath Apostles ( understand by that name prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers or whom you will, so no lay Elders, ) we deny them neither places nor voices in Synods, so long as they have right to teach or speak in the church. For we esteem Synods to be but the assemblies & conferences of those to whom the Churches of any province or nation for the word & doctrine are committed. And therefore to our Synods are called, as your selves know ; not only bishops, but deans, archdeacons, and other clerics as well of the principal & cathedral Presbytery, where the episcopal seat & church is, as of the Diocese at large. And though some Romish writers do stiffly maintain, that none but bishops have voices in Councils ; yet you see the ancient institution of our synodal assembly in this realm overthroweth their late & new assertion. Neither lack we examples of the course which we keep, even from the beginning.
The Synod of Rome called by Cornelius against Novatus about the year of Christ 255 ; consisted of 1 60. Bishops and many Presbyters and Deacons, as Eusebius noteth. From the Synod of Antioch, that deposed Paulus Samosatenus about the year of our Lord 270. wrote not only Bishops, but 2 Presbyters & Deacons, as appeareth by their epistle. In the Council of Eliberis about the time of the first Nicene Council sat besides the Bishops, 3 36. Presbyters. In the second Council of Arles about the same time subscribed 4 12. Presbyters, besides Deacons & other Clergy men. The like may be seen in the Councils of Rome 5 under Hilarius ; & under Gregory, where 6 34. Presbyters subscribed after 22. Bishops ; & in the first under Symmachus, where after 72. bishops subscribed 7 67. Presbyters. So in the third, fifth, & sixth under the same Symmachus. Felix also bishop of Rome kept a Council of 43. bishops, & 8 74. Presbyters ; & after the same manner have divers other Metropolitans assembled in their provincial synods, as well Presbyters, is bishops. The council of Antisiodorum saith, 9 Let all the Presbyters being called, come to the Synod in the city. The 4. council of Toledo describeth the celebrating of a provincial council in this wise. 10 Let the bishops assembled go to the church together, & sit according to the time of their ordination. After all the bishops are entered and set, let the Presbyters be called, and the Bishops sitting in a compass, let the Presbyters sit behind them, and the Deacons stand before them. The Council of Tarracon 1100. years ago prescribed almost the very same order that we observe at this day. 11 Let letters be sent by the Metropolitan unto his brethren, that they bring with them unto the Synod, not only some of the Presbyters of the Cathedral church, but also of each Diocese. And why should this seem strange even to the Romish crew, when as in the great Council of Lateran, as they call it, under Innocentius the third, there were but 482. Bishops, and of Abbots and Priors conventual almost double the number, even 12 eight hundred ?1 Euseb. li. 6. ca. 43. 2 Idem li. 7. ca. 30. 3 Subscriptiones Eliberini Concil. fol. 282. 4 Subscript. Arelatens. Concil. 2. fol. 293. 5 Tomo Conciliorum 1. fol. 951. 6 Epistolarum lib. 4. ca. 88. 7 Tomo Conciliorum 1. fol. 1002. 8 Tomo Conciliorum 1. fol. 959. 9 Concil. Antisiodorens. ca. 7. 10 Concilium Toletanum 4. ca. 3. 1 Tarraconens. Concil. ca. 13. 12 Platina in Innocentio 3.
[ If Presbyters have right to sit in Provincial Synods, why are they excluded from general Councils ? ] Many things are lawful which are not expedient. I make no doubt but all pastours and teachers may sit and deliberate in Council ; yet would it breed a sea of absurdities to call all the pastors and preachers of the world into one place, as often as need should require to have any matter determined or ordered in the Church. As therefore in civil policy, when a whole realm assembleth, not all the persons there living are called together, but certain chief over the rest or chosen by the rest, to represent the state, and to consult for the good of the whole commonwealth ; so in the government of the Church it were not only superfluous and tedious, but monstrous to send for all the Pastors and Presbyters of the whole world into one City, and there to stay them from their cures and Churches till all things needful could be agreed and concluded. It is more agreeable to reason, and as sufficient in right, that some of every place excelling others in dignity, or elected by general consent, should be sent to supply the rooms of the rest that are absent, and to confer in common for the directing and ordering of the whole Church. And therefore Christian Princes in wisdom and discretion never sent for all the Presbyters of the world to any general Council, but only for the chiefest of every principal church and city ; or for some to be sent from every realm far distant, as legates in the names of the rest, and by that means they had the consent of the whole world to the decrees of their Councils, though not the personal appearance of all the Pastours and Presbyters that were in the world.
So to the Council of Nicea the first christian Emperor sent for by his letters not all the Preachers & Presbyters of the world, but 1 (
τοὺς πανταχόθεν ἐπισκόπους, ) the Bishops of every place ; and there came, 1 from all the Churches through Europe, Asia and Africa, (
τῶν τοῦ θεοῦ λειτουργῶν τὰ ἀκροθίνια, ) the best, or chiefest of the Ministers of God ; each country sending not all their Bishops, ( for then would they far have exceded the number of 318., ) but 2 the most special and selected men they had ; and though there were present 3 an infinite number of Presbyters and Deacons, that came with the Bishops ; yet the Council consisted of 318. bishops and no more, by reason the Emperour sent not for the Presbyters of each place, but for the Bishops. The like examples are to be seen in the three general Councils that followed, where only Bishops determined matters in question ; and the Presbyters that subscribed, in the Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon supplied the places of Bishops, as their Legates and substitutes, which in the 4 Council of Chalcedon is more fully expressed.
But what need we rip up these things at large, which pertain not so much to our purpose ? We seek now for the antiquity and authority of Metropolitans ; and those we find not only received and established in the four first general Councils, but confessed by them to have anciently continued in the Church even from the beginning. And surely, if you grant Provincial Synods to be ancient and necessary in the Church of Christ, which you cannot deny ; Metropolitans must needs be as ancient and requisite, without whom the Synods of each Province can neither be convocated nor moderated.
If to avoid Metropolitans you would have the prerogative of calling and guiding Synods to run round by course, which order you fancied before in Bishops ; our answer is easy : we look not what you can invent after 1500. years to please your own humours ; but what manner of ecclesiastical government the Church of Christ from the Apostles times established and continued by the general consent of the whole world ; and that we prove was not only in every Church and diocese to have a Bishop chief over the Presbyters, but in every Province to appoint a Mother Church and City ; and the Bishop thereof to have this honour and dignity above the rest of his brethren, that he might by letters consult, or call together the Bishops of his Province for any question or cause that touched the faith or peace of the Church, and not only moderate their meetings, but execute their decrees ; and see them performed throughout his Province. This was the ancient and original use of Christ’s Church, long before any Princes professed the truth ; and when they began to use their swords, for the doctrine and Church of Christ, then did Synods serve for the direction of Christian Princes ; and Metropolitans had the execution as well of Princes laws, as Synodal decrees committed to their power and care throughout their Province.
[ We want not the witness of ancient Fathers and stories that reprove the ambitious and tyrannous dominion of Metropolitans and Archbishops. Socrates saieth, 1 [ The Bishopric of Rome, as likewise that of Alexandria, were long before his time grown from the bonds of Priesthood unto worldly dominion. ] Nazianzene not only lamenteth the mischiefs which follow these diversities of degrees, but heartily wisheth there were no such thing, that men might be discerned only by their virtues. His words are worth the hearing. 2 [ For this presidency of Bishops all our estate tottereth & shaketh ; for this the ends of the earth are in a jealousy and tumult both senseless and nameless ; for this we are in danger to be thought to be of men, which indeed are of God, and to lose that great and new name. Would God there were neither priority of seat, neither superiority of place, nor violent preeminence, that we might be discerned only by virtue. But the right hand and the left, and the midst ; the higher and lower seat ; the going before, and going even with, have to no purpose done us much hurt, and cast many into the ditch, and brought them to be goats, and those not only of the inferiour sort, but even of the shepherds, which being masters in Israel knew not this. ] You may soon find of the ancient Fathers that misliked the contention, ambition, and pride of many Bishops in the Primitive Church ; but any that misliked their calling, you cannot find. The sharper they were in reproving their vices, the sounder witnesses they are in allowing their office. If either Socrates or Nazianzene had opposed themselves against the judgement of the Nicene Council ; yea, against the whole church of Christ before & after them ; their credits would not have countervailed the weight of that antiquity & authority, which the others carried : but indeed neither of them dispraiseth the wisdom of the Council, or custom of the church ; only they tax the vices of some persons & ambition of some places, which not content with the christian moderation of their predecessors, daily augmented their power and their pride by all means possible.1 Socrat. li. 7. ca. 11. 2 Nazianz. oratio post suum in vrbem reditum.
Socrates saith, the bishops of Rome and Alexandria were grown beyond the limits of their Episcopal function,
ἐπὶ δυναστείαν, unto power & dominion. The fault he findeth in that place with Celestinus bishop of Rome, was for 1 taking from the Novatians their churches, and compelling their bishop to live at home like a private man. But herein Socrates leaned a litle too much in favour of the Novatians, to mislike more than he showeth cause why. Would God the bishop of Rome had never worse offended than in so doing. He toucheth 2 Cyrillus bishop of Alexandria with like words for the same cause ; how justly, let the wise judge. If otherwise either of them aspired above the compass of their calling, I am far from defending any pride in them, or in whomsoever.
Nazianzene lighted on very tempestuous & troublesome times, heresy so raging on the one side, and discord afflicting the Church on the other, that he thought best to leave all, and betake himself to a quiet & solitary kind of contemplation. Of the councils in his time he saieth, 1 I am minded, if I must write you the truth, to shun all assemblies of Bishops ; because I never saw a good event of any Council, that did not rather increase than diminish our evils. Their contention and ambition passeth my speech; not that he condemneth all Councils, ( for what folly had that been in so wise a man ? ) but he noteth the diseases of his time, the Church being so rent in pieces under Valens, that it could not be restored nor reformed in many years after. Even so in the words which you allege, he traduceth not the vocation or function of Bishops, as a thing superfluous or dangerous to the Church of God, but showeth how far the thirst of honour and flame of discord had caried many, even to the disturbance of the whole world, and shaking of the Christian profession in sunder. His words are, 2 Will they deprive me of the chief seat ? Which heretofore some wise men have admired ; but now as I think, it is the first point of wisdom to decline it. Then follow those words which you allege ; for which our whole estate is troubled and shaken, for which the uttermost parts of the world are in an heart-burning & dissention that cannot be appeased, nor expressed ; for which we are in danger to be thought to be of men, when we are of God, and to loose that great and new name.1 Nazianz. epistola 42. ad Procopium. 2 Idem in Maximum post reditum in vrbem.
The occasions of this speech, as may be seene in his life, were the horrible tumult that Maximus raised in aspiring to the Bishopric of Constantinople ; the inconstancy of Peter bishop of Alerandria, who first by letters confirmed him in the place, and yet after sent some to ordain Maximus against him ; and the general dislike the Bishops of Egypt and of the West parts had of him, ( though they could not but commend the man ) because he was placed without their consent. Seeing himself therefore undermined and betrayed by his familiar friends, deserted and forsaken by the Bishop of Alerandria, after the death of Miletius Bishop of Antioch, murmured and repined against by so many, for not expecting their presence, and the Bishops ready to war one with another about his election and ordination ; he wisely and stoutly came into the Council, and said, 1 Ye men that are my fellow Pastours of the sacred flock of Christ, it will be a shame and very unseemly for you, teaching others to be at peace, if you be at war amongst yourselves. For how shall you persuade them to agree, if you vary in your own opinions. I beseech you rather by the ( blessed ) Trinity that you dispose of your matters wisely and peaceably. And if I be a cause of strife unto you, I am not better than Jonas the Prophet ; cast me into the Sea, and let this troublesome tempest cease from among you. I am content to endure any thing for your concord, though I be guiltless ; thrust me out of my throne, drive me from the City, only embrace you truth and peace. Thus christianly preferred he the unity of God’s Church before his own safety, and made more account of quietness and secrecy, than of honour and dignity.1 Gregorius Presbyter in vita Nazianzeni.
At the first rising of this tumult, Nazianzene was absent from the City ; and upon his return, when Maximus and the rest of that faction threatned him with many things, he presently and pithily made that oration to the people, whence your words are taken. Hence you may prove there were many contentious and ambitious heads in Nazianzen’s time ; which in no time before or after, did, or will want ; but you can infer nothing out of these words against the lawful use of Episcopal or Metropolitical moderation and supervision prescribed and limited by the Canons of grave and godly Councils, which Nazianzene neither did, nor could mislike. If you think I restrain his meaning, examine his words.
The time was ( saieth he ) when a wise man might admire this presidency, but now, it is the first point of wisdom in my judgement to shun it ; not because it was then more unlawful than before, but by reason of the manifold troubles, dislikes, and dissentions, that then oppressed the Church. The ends of the earth ( saieth he ) are for this in suspicion and war, which hath no ears nor name ; that is, whose cause and remedy are both unknown : for this, we which are of God, are in danger ( saith he ) to be thought to be of men, and to lose that great and new name. he clearly confesseth, they were of God ; that is, their calling and function was ordained and approved by God : wherefore he willeth them to beware, least by their quarrelling and contending, they occasioned others to suppose they were not of God, but of men. Doth this place, think you, confute, or confirm the vocation of Bishops ? What more could be said for them, than that they are of God, and not men ? After this, whatsoever he saith, it toucheth not the unlawfulness of the office, but the unruliness of the persons ; and the vices of men he might traduce, without any prejudice to their calling.
[ He saieth, the name ( of Bishops ) was new ; and wisheth there were no superiority nor preeminence amongst them, but that every man might be known by his virtues. ] The newness of the name doth not so much disgrace the office, as the greatness of the name doth commend it. Let it be new, so it be great, and both of God. In what sense Nazianzene calleth the name of Bishop new, ( if he mean the name of Bishop, as one of the greatest Patrons of your discipline precisely noteth; ) is not so soon agreed on. If he mean a new name, as the prophet Esay doeth, when he saith, 1 thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name ; or as S. John doeth, when he reporteth the words of Christ to the Angel of the Church of Pergamus, 1 I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written ; if he allude I say, to either of these places, as he may well do ; he could not give the name of Bishop an higher praise, than to call it great and new, and that from God. If by new, you would have him understand a name lately devised by men, not authorized by God, as it seemeth you would ; you make Nazianzene very forgetful, and your selves were scant waking, when you made that observation in his words ( 3
nempe Episcopi ) as though the name of Bishop had been new in Nazianzene’s time. For could that name be new to Nazianzene, which the holy Ghost hath so anciently, so often, so honourably mentioned in the Scriptures ? Read you not this alleged by Peter out of David, 4 Let another take his Bishopric ? And again, 5 the holy Ghost hath made you Bishops ? As also, 6 a Bishop must be blameless ? And likewise, 7 you are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls ? How could that name be new, which is so authentically recorded in the Apostolic writings ?
Haply you will shrink from that, and say the name was newly theirs, because in the Scriptures it is general to all Presbyters, and here it is special to Bishops ; but that is neither true, nor any part of Nazianzene’s meaning : for even the severing of chief Pastours from Presbyters by the name of bishops, was no late nor new device in Nazianzene’s time. That very distinction of names had continued at Alexandria from the death of Mark the Evangelist, as 1 Jerome affirmeth. In all histories and writers before Nazianzene lived, there is no word so common and usual to signify the President and Ruler of the Presbytery, as the name of Bishop ; and therefore it could not then be new. Besides, Nazianzene reputeth it a wonderful inconvenience to lose that great and new name ; and to be all one, as if they should be taken not to be of God. Now, if the name were new, and lately invented by men, the loss thereof were not great ; yea, retaining the name, they must be known to be of men, and not of God ; which is contrary to Nazianzene’s words. Wherefore by the great and new name, he meaneth the name of Christians, grounding his speech on the words of Esay, that saith ; the Church 2 shall be called by a new name ; or if he refer it to bishops, he speaketh rather in praise of the greatness, than in dispraise of the newness of the name ; & accounteth it to be great & new because it was first used by the holy Ghost in the new Testament.1 Hiero. epistola ad Evagrium. 2 Esay 62.
[ He wisheth there were no preeminence, nor priority amongst Bishops, and calleth their superiority tyrannical. ] He wisheth, if it were possible, that preeminence and priority amongst Bishops went not by the mightiness of their Cities, but by the deserts of their virtues ; not that the first is unlawful, but that the second is far more commendable. 1 O that there were, saith he, neither priority of See, nor privilege of place & tyrannical preeminence, that we might be distinguished only by virtue. If this last were possible, the former might well be wished out of the Church. For then should none but fit and worthy men have the places of government, where otherwise the worst are often highest, and rule as impotently, as they aspire unshamefastly. This is the sum of Nazianzen’s speech, and what fault to find with it, truly I know not. Happy were the Church of God, not if all were equal, as you would have them, but if each man had superiority according to his integrity. So should the Church of Christ never be besieged with ambition, nor surprised with corruption, nor wasted with dissention, but the chief would circumspectly and wisely lead, and the rest would gladly and quietly follow ; where now aspiring and striving for places of dignity, hath subverted many not of the meanst, but of the highest degree. So saith Nazianzene, 2 But now ( when men are superiour by their Cities, and not by their virtues, ) the right hand & the left, and the midst, the higher and the lower seat, the precedency, or going cheek by cheek, hath made many breaths amongst us to no purpose, and cast many into the ditch ; and made them goats not only of the inferiour sort, but even of the shepherds, who being masters in Israel knew not this. He misliketh not generally the calling of Bishops, nor their diversities of degrees, but the falling of some of them into the ditch, and becoming goats, while they pressed over eagerly to the higher places ; otherwise, he must first have condemned himself, who accepted and retained one of the chiefest seats of honour, though after to conserve the peace of the Church, he resigned it.1 Nazianz. in oratione post reditum in urbem. 2 Ibidem.
Lastly, the wishing of a better way, if it were possible, is no defacing of that which was already settled ; by reason it cannot be expected that Nazianzene’s wish should take place. For that all men should be sincerely regarded and honoured according to their virtues, is rather an heavenly, than an earthly condition ; and sooner to be wished for, than to be looked for at men’s hands ; yea, that course which he wisheth, unless the execution might be answerable to his wish, would do more harm than good. For it would not quench ambition and contention, as some men dream, which are the vices that he complaineth of, but rather inflame them, while every man conceiving well of his own virtues, would make small account of other men’s gifts and deserts. If to decide the strife, you reserve the judgement thereof to other men’s voices ; you amend the matter nothing at all. For if all men setting aside corrupt and partial respects, would choose the best to every place, the Church of Christ would soon flourish without any wishing ; and wish what you will, except that be first brought to pass, all the rest will do you no good.
[ An equality amongst the Pastours must needs slake ambition. ] If you could reduce the Cities, Churches and parishes of each commonwealth to a just proportion : that one should not exceed another in any thing, you might chance with a general equality of the places, somewhat to temper ambition ; but if you leave any difference in the things, you shall soon find a difference in men’s affections. Now when, or how that may be compassed, I leave you to consider, that are so good at devising. I think you may sooner undertake to new build all Cities and Towns to make them equal, than suffering them as they are, to bring them to a just and even proportion. If leaving an inequality of the places, which you must needs ; you settle a general equality amongst the Pastors and ministers of Christ’s Church; what fresh experience the later end of the world may teach us I will not foretell ; I am sure, the mean to prevent schisms and dissentions in the primitive Church, when the graces of God’s spirit were far more eminent and abundant than now, was not to make all equal ; but to appoint some chief to oversee and moderate the rest. That course the Apostolic times embraced, and the Church of Christ ever since preferred, as the safest and readiest way to resist confusion, and stay contention in the Church of God. Jerome saieth : 1 (
Propterea inter duodecim unus eligitur, ut capite constituto, schismatis tollatur occasio, ) Amongst the twelve ( Apostles ) one was therefore chosen, that a chief being appointed, occasion of dissention might be prevented.
If the twelve were not likely to agree ; except there had been one chief amongst them, I marvel how you imagine, that equality would keep all the Pastours of the world in peace and unity. If every Presbytery by God’s ordinance must have a Ruler as your selves avouch, lest they grow to dissention and confusion, how shall the Bishops of a whole Province or kingdom meet, confer, and conclude, as often as need requireth, without one to call and moderate their assemblies ?
[ We mislike not that so much, as that you give the Metropolitan, dominion and impery over the rest. ] Your Presbyteries have another manner of dominion than we give either to the Diocesans, or to Metropolitans. For they determine all matters by discretion ; which is even as much, or more than Princes have with us. As for Bishops and Archbishops, I see no such dominion in this Realm allowed them. We have Laws consisting partly of Synodal constitutions, partly of the royal edicts of Princes, and by the tenour of them it is prescribed what the Bishop or Metropolitan shall require at each man’s hands ; not what they list, but what the Canons of former Councils and laws of Christian Princes have thought meet to be performed by every one to the glory of God and good of his Church. Now if the execution of Laws be Dominion and Impery in your conceit ; when as there is a present remedy by appeal to the Princes audience, if any wrong or hard measure be offered ; what will you call it, to Judge by discretion, as your Presbyteries do ? Which is the greater kind of Impery to determine all matters as you list, or to be limited in every point by the Laws of the Realm, what you shall do ; and if you transgress never so little, to give account thereof to the supreme Magistrate ? If I understand anything, it were more liberty for Bishops to be referred to Synods, where they should bear some sway ; than to be restrained to Laws, from which they may not shrink. The execution of your Presbyterical decrees, you give to the moderatour of your Presbytery ; and yet you give him no dominion nor impery. Why then are you so inconsiderate or so intemperate, as to call the execution of ecclesiastical Laws by the Diocesan or Metropolitan, a tyrannical power and dominion over their brethren ?
Would you have no Laws at all ; but every case as it falleth out, so to be censured at the pleasure of the Presbyters ? That were a right tyranny indeed, and not tolerable in any commonwealth that hath a Christian Magistrate. If you admit every matter to be ruled by written Laws ; and leave appeals in all causes for such as find themselves grieved to the Prince, which is observed in this Realm ; the execution of Laws is rather a burden imposed, than an honour to be desired ; and but that some men must needs undertake that charge, it were more easy for Bishops to be without it, than always to trouble, and often to endanger themselves with the difficulties and penalties of so many Laws as we have, and must have to guide those causes that are committed to their Consistories.
[ They have others to discharge it for them. ] They must have some to assist them, except you will have Bishops to bestow more time in learning human laws, than in meditating the divine Scriptures. And therefore your inveighing at the Arches and other places of judgement, showeth you little understand what you say. Were your Presbyteries or Synods at their perils to handle and determine so many & so weighty causes as they are, you would reverence them as much as ever you disgraced them ; and see your own folly in impugning that which cannot be wanted. But what stand I on these things, which experience will prove to be requisite in a Christian commonwealth, better than speech. It sufficeth me that Metropolitans were long before the Nicene Council accepted and used in the Church of Christ as necessary persons to assemble the Synods of each Province upon all occasions ; and to oversee as well the election, as ordination of Bishops within their charge. This if you grant, necessity will force you to yield them the rest, as it did the Councils & Princes, that were long before our times. If you like not the wisdom and order of the universal and ancient Church of Christ, you must tell us in your new platform, who shall call and moderate Provincial Synods, when occasion requireth ; or whether your Presbyters shall be supreme Moderators of all matters, without expecting or regarding any Synodal assemblies or Judgements.
[ Synods we admit, & some to gather and govern those assemblies ; but to prevent ambition we would have that privilege to go round by course to all the Pastors of every Province. ] You may do well to change Deacons every day, Bishops every week, Presbyters every month, and Metropolitans every quarter, that the government of the house of God may go round by course. And surely you miss not much of it. Deacons and Presbyters endure with you for a year ; Bishops you think in the Apostles times were changed every week ; what space, you will appoint to Metropolitans, we yet know not ; longer than one Synod I presume you will have no man to continue. But what reason or example have you for it ? Examples perhaps as you care for none, so you seek for none. For if examples might prevail with you, we have the settled and approved order of the primitive Church against you, that Metropolitans never went by course. Yea the name itself doth infer as much for if he be Metropolitan, that is Bishop of the Metropolis or Mother city ; the mother City remaining always one and the same, the privilege of the Metropolitan could never change by course.
To ask you for reason, which lean only to your wills and regard no men’s judgements but your own, will seem strange ; yet hear the resolution of one that highly favoureth your new found discipline ; who positively concludeth, that this circular regiment by course, as it is not able to resist ambition and adulation, so it will breed contempts and factions in the Church of God. His words be : 1 Let us then avouch that this Primacy of order ( going round ) by course of mutual succession, was at length by very experience found not to have force enough to repress ambitious Pastors, neither vain and flattering Auditors, while every Pastour in his course enjoyed this superiority. Therefore that which was common to all by succession, it seemed good to transfer to one chosen by the judgement of the whole Presbytery ; the which neither can, nor ought to be reprehended ; especially since this ancient manner to choose the chief of the Presbytery was observed in the famous Church of Alexandria even from Mark the Evangelist. Another cause of greatest weight without comparison, doth Ambrose allege, that this Primacy so going round to every one by course, some Pastours sometimes were found unfit to undertake this government, and thereby it came to pass, that such as were unworthy, oft times ruled the rest, which brought with it the contempt of the Presbytery, and opened a gap unto factions.1 Theodore Beza responsio ad tract. de ministrorum evangelii gradibus fol. 143.
How far Ambrose is mistaken, I have showed before ; he saith the Presbyters succeeded in order, when the place was void, but that they changed by course, he saith no such thing. It was a plain oversight ( I will say no worse ) in him that first wrested Ambrose’s words to that conceit. In the mean time we have master Beza’s full confession, that the going round by course to govern the Church, doeth maintain disorder and faction, and no whit decrease ambition ; and the choosing of one to continue chief ( for his life ) began at Alexandria from Mark the Evangelist, ( six years before Peter and Paul were martyred, and six and thirty before the death of Saint John; ) in which there is can, or ought to be misliked.
How truly he speaketh, if he should recall, or you refuse his words, reason and experience will easily teach us. For first in this circular change, it is not casual, but essential, that all in their course, be they fit or unfit, must have the ruling of the rest. Now if to choose one good amongst many, be a matter of difficulty ; how impossible then is it, that all should be good ? And yet by your rolling regiment, all, be they never so wicked or unworthy, must have as much time and power to neglect and hurt the Church of God, as the well minding and godly Pastours shall have to assist and help the same. Again, what good can be done by any, when in every action, one must begin, and another proceed, and a third conclude ? If an evil man light on the beginning, middle or ending, he may soon mar all. And be the men not evil, except they be like affected and like instructed, when will they agree in judgement, or tread one in another’s steps ? If any faction arise, I need not put you in mind what contradicting and reversing will be offered by your weekly or monthly Governours. Who shall dare do any thing to a Presbyter or Bishop but he must look for the like measure, when their course cometh ? What can be one week made so sure, but it may be the next week undone by him that presently followeth ? This is the right way to make a mockery of the Church of Christ ; and to permit it to every man’s humour and pleasure while his time lasteth. If you trust not me, distrust not your selves ; It breedeth contempt, and openeth the highway to factions.
As for Ambition, which is another of the mischiefs that you would amend by your changeable government, you cure that, as he doeth, which to cool the heat of one part of the body, setteth all the rest in a burning fever. To quench the desire of dignity in one man ; you inflame all the Pastours of every province with the same disease. for you propose the like honor and power for the time unto all ; which we do to one. And so you heal ambition by making it common, as if patients were the less sick, because others are touched with the same infection, for if one man cannot have this Metropolitical preeminence without some note of pride ; the rest can neither expect it, nor enjoy it in their courses, but with some taint of the same corruption. Fruition and expectation of one & the same thing, are so near neighbors, that if one be vicious, the other cannot be virtuous. Wherefore, either grant, the superiority and dignity of Bishops and Metropolitans may be christianly supported by one in every Presbytery and province as we affirm ; or else we conclude, it can not be expected and enjoyed of all everywhere by course, as you would have it, but very unchristianly.
[ It was long after the Apostles times before Provinces were divided, and Mother Cities appointed, and therefore Metropolitans are not so ancient as you make them ; as may appear by the 33. canon called Apostolic, where the chief dignity over each Province, is not attributed to any certain place or City. ] I stand not precisely for the time, when Mother Cities were first appointed in every Province ; howbeit the general Council of Ephesus saith, 1 every Province shall keep his rights untouched and unviolated, which it hath had
ἐξ αρχῆς ἄνωθεν, from the beginning upward, according to the custom that hath anciently prevailed ; every Metropolitan having liberty to take a copy of our acts for his own security,
for so the words may well be interpreted, though some embrace another sense. Yet if in this point you press those Canons called Apostolic, I will not reject them ; not that I take to have been written by the Apostles, for then they must be part of the Canonical Scriptures ; but that some of them express the ancient discipline of the Church, which obtained even from the Apostles times, ( by whomsoever they were collected ) though many things since be inserted and corrupted in them, and therfore are justly refused, further than they agree with the histories of the first times, and the decrees of the eldest Councils.
The Canon which you quote, is this ; 1 The Bishops of every Nation must know ( or acknowledge ) him that is first ( or chief ) amongst them ; and esteem him as their head, and attempt no matter of weight without his opinion ( and judgement ) neither let him do anything without all their advices ( and consents. )
Hereby you would prove, there was a time after the Apostles deaths, when as yet the first place amongst the Bishops of the same Province, was not affixed to any certain Church or City. Grant it were so, though this Canon do not exactly prove so much ; then yet in every nation there was a Primate, before there was a Metropolitan ; and consequently the authority of one to be chief in a province is elder than the privilege of the Metropolis or mother City ; which by the witness of the Nicene and Ephesine Councils was in their times a very ancient custom. Now what gain you by this, if there were a chief bishop in every province to assemble & moderate Synods, before that prerogative was fastened to any place ? It is the office not the place that we seek for. For so you confess there were Primates amongst the Apostles Scholers ; whether they were chosen for the worthiness of their gifts, or for the greatness of their Cities, we care not ; such there were ; and by such were the Synods of every Province assembled and guided. When the wonderful gifts of the holy Ghost failed, for which the first age haply made choice of her Primates, it is not unlike, but as the next ages following chose the most sufficient men for the most populous Cities ; so they were content the Bishops of the most famous Churches in every province should have
τὰ πρεσβεῖα, the preeminence amongst their brethren, to call them together and consult them for the common affairs of the whole Church ; which the four first general Councils with one consent confirmed to every Church ; and commanded to be kept without alteration or diminution, as the ancient rights and customs of the Church even from the beginning.
The Council of Nicea willeth 1 (
τὰ πρεσβεῖα σώζεσθαι ταῖς ἐκκλησίας, ) the prerogatives to remain to every Church ; and again, 2 (
τῇ μητροπόλει σωζομένου τοῦ ὀικείου ἀξιώματος, ) reserving always to the Mother City her proper dignity. The Council of Constantinople as Socrates saith, 3 ratified the Nicene faith, and appointed Patriarchs, or Metropolitans, distinguishing their Provinces. As namely Nectarius the Bishop of Constantinople had allowed him Thracia ; Helladius bishop of Cesarea in Cappadocia, Gregory of Nissa, and Otreius of Militene had the regiment of Pontus ; Aphilochius of Iconium, and Optimus of Antioch in Pisidia took the charge of Asia ; the like did Timotheus Bishop of Alexandria for Egypt ; and Pelagius of Laodicea, and Diodorus of Tarsus for the East Churches, reserving the prerogative of the Church of Antioch, which they delivered unto Miletius there present : 4 The Canon that before limited these governments being always observed. Of the Council of Ephesus I spoke even now ; wherein, when the Bishops of Cyprus complained, that the Church of Antioch began to encroach upon them, 5 (
contra Apostolicos Canons, & definitiones Nicenae Synodi, ) contrary to the Apostles Canons, and the Decrees of the sacred Council of Nicea, and desired that the Synod of Cyprus might enjoy their right, as they had done, 6 even from the beginning ever since the Apostles times ; the Fathers rejected and condemned that attempt of the Bishop of Antioch, as a thing 7 repugnant to the Laws of the Church, and Canons of the Apostles. The great Council of Chalcedon finding fault, that some Bishops, to increase their power, obtained the Prince’s Charter to cut one Province into twain, of purpose to make two Metropolitans, where before was but one ; decreed, that no Bishop should enterprize the like without the loss of his office ; and notwithstanding the Imperial letters already purchased, 8 (
δῆλον ὅτι, σωζομένων τῇ κατ᾿ἀληθείαν μητροπόλει τῶν ὀικείων δικαίων, ) the true, or ancient, Mother City should certainly keep her proper right ; and the other newly erected content themselves with the honour of the name.
The preeminence then of Mother Cities and Metropolitans is very ancient in the Church of God, and if we admit even your own construction of that Canon called Apostolic, there were Primates elected in every Province before there were Metropolitans ; and so the office was found to be needful in the Church of Christ, when as yet the places and Cities, that should have that privilege, were not appointed nor agreed on.
Some think the Metropolitan’s function may be derived from Timothy and Titus, by reason that Titus had in charge the whole Isle of Crete, and Timothy the oversight not of Ephesus only, but of Asia also. Of Titus, Chrysostom saith ; 1 This was one of Paul’s companions, that was approved. Otherwise Paul would not have committed unto him an whole Island, and the trial or judgement of so many Bishops. Of Timothy, Theodoret saith ; 2 To him divine Paul committed the charge of Asia. And of them both he saith, 3 (
Ita Cretensium Titus & Asianorum Timotheus, ) so was Titus the Apostle, or Bishop, of Crete, and Timothy of Asia.
Indeed Ephesus was a Mother City, as appeareth by the first Ephesine Council, but whether it had that prerogative by the nobleness of the place, or by succession from Timothy I dare not define. Timothy, as it should seem by Theodoret was chief over all Asia, and yet were there sundry other Cities in Asia besides Ephesus, that had Metropolitans ; as 4 Iconium, 4 Antioch of Pisidia, 5 Cyzicum, 5 Sardis, 5 Rhodos. If any think it unlawful for one man to have the care and oversight of other Bishops, he may be satisfied or refuted by the example of Titus, to whom 6 the whole Island of Crete was committed, as Chrysostom saith ; and the 7 Islands adjoining, as Jerome writeth ; and by Paul’s own testimony, the 8 making of Bishops in many Cities. If therefore any man like these places, I am not against them ; but the ancient, evident, and constant course of the Primitive Church to have Primates or Metropolitans for the calling and guiding of Synods in every province, is to me a pregnant and perfect proof, that this order was either delivered or allowed by the Apostles and their Schollers ; or found so needful in the first government of the Church, that the whole christian world ever since received, and continued the same.
Theodoret praefatio in1. epist. ad Timoth. 3 Idem in 1. ad Timoth. ca. 3. 4 Socr. lib. 5. ca. 8. 5 Vide subscriptiones Concil Chalcedonens. actio. 3. 6 Chrysost. ut supr. 7 Hiero. de scriptoribus ecclesiast. in Titum. 8 Tit. 1.
[ Though the office were tolerable, yet the name of Archbishop is expresly prohibited by the third Council of Carthage, & by the great Council of Africa ; and was never heard of in the Church till the Council of Chalcedon, which was kept 455. years after Christ. The words of both the Councils interdicting all such proud titles, are these ; 1 The Bishop of the first seat must not be called the Prince of Priests or high Priest, or by any such style, but only the bishop of the first seat. ] If the office be needful and lawful, the strife for names shall not long trouble us. Were I persuaded, that Archbishop had no signification but king and prince of Bishops, the simplicity and integrity of Christ’s Church should soon induce me to give over the name ; but if it import no more than the words, which these Councils like and use ; I see no cause for others to stumble at it. The very Canon lately cited by you, which you 2 grant is ancient, though not Apostolic, calleth the Metropolitan 3
τὸν πρῶτον, the first, or chiefest, and willeth him to be esteemed, 3
ὡς κεφαλὴν, as head amongst the Bishops of the same province. The Councils of Carthage the second, ca. 12 ; the third, ca. 7. 28 ; the fifth, ca. 7. 10 ; the Milevitan Council, ca. 21. 22. 24 ; the African, ca. 40, 43, 44, 65, 73, 87, 88, 92, use the word
πρωτεύων for the primate of every Province.
ἀρχὴ in composition note the first and chief, as well in order and dignity, as in time and Impery I see no reason to refuse the name of Archbishop more than of Primate, which word the African Council so often useth. If you deny that the compounds of
ἀρχὴ signify an order amongst fellows, as well as a power over subjects ; to omit profane Writers by which we might prove it, ( Cicero saying, 1
Qui Archipirata dicitur ; he that is called Archpirate, except he divide the prize equally, he shall be slain or forsaken not of his men, but of his fellows; ) What think you of the word 2
ἀρχάγγελος, Archangel ; doth it import order and dignity amongst the Angels, or power and impery over them ? If matters in heaven be too high for us, what say you to the word
πατριάρχης, Patriarch ? Were 3 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ; in that they were Patriarchs, Rulers and Lords over the Church or chief fathers in the Church ? The 4 twelve Patriarchs, that were begotten of Jacob, will you call them the rulers of their Fathers, or chief fathers of the twelve tribes ? 5 David, shall he be a Patriarch in respect of his kingdom and impery, or of his Prophetical graces and dignity ? This signification, no doubt the learned Fathers did follow when they suffered and used in the Church of God the names of 6 Archbishop, 6 Archimandrite, 6 Archdeacon, not that they made them Lords & Princes over Bishops, Monks and Deacons, but rather chief amongst them.
Epistola Judae.3 Hebr. 7. 4 Act. 7. 5 Act. 2. 6 unde Concilium Chaleedonens.
But did the word
ἀρχὴ always import power and authority, which you shall never prove ; must that power be straitways so princely and peremptory, that it may not stand with a bishop’s calling ? Is there no power, nor government annexed to a Bishop’s office ? Christ saith they be set 1
ἐπὶ τῆς θεραπείας αὑτοῦ, over his family ; Saint Paul calleth them 2
προϊσταμένους ἐν κυρίῳ, Governours in the Lord. That is ( you will say ) in respect of their flock, not of their fellow Pastours. The Council of Nicea alloweth the Metropolitan 3
τὴν ἐξουσίαν, power and authority over his Province. The Council of Sardica, where were 300. bishops assembled long before the African Council giveth him the title of
ἐξάρχου τῆς ἐπαρχίας, the Ruler of the Province : and addeth, 4
λέγω δὴ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου τῆς μητροπόλεως we mean thereby the Bishop of the Mother City ( or Metropolitan. ) Socrates saith the first council of Constantinople, 5 appointed Patriarchs ; and calleth the charge which they received,
πατριαρχίαν, a Patriarchdom, 6 Ignatius, 7 Nazianzen and 8 Chrysostom who I think knew the force of their own tongue better than any man living in our age, be their skill never so great, spare not to give the name of
ἀρχιερεὺς the chief Priest, unto bishops. Nazianzen speaking to the foresaid Council of Constantinople about the choice of another in his place, as Theodoret reporteth his words, said, 9 seeking out a man praise-worthy & wise that is able to undertake & well guide the number of cares here occurrent, make him Archbishop of this place. And touching Maximus Theodoret saith, the same Council deprived him 9 of the Archiepiscopal dignity.
ad Smyrnaeos. 7 Nazianz. in epitaph. patru. 8 Chrysost. homil. 21. ad populum Antiochenum. 9 Theodor. li. 5. ca. 8.
Where you say, that 1 before the Council of Chalcedon, which was about the year of Christ 455. you never found any subscription in Synod, of any man named Archbishop ; either mine eyes be not matches, or you are greatly deceived. For I find not only that subscription in the general Council of Ephesus before the Council of Chalcedon, but the main Council in their letters give that title to the bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Ephesus. In the first session of the Council it is said. 2 The Synod assembling in the mother City of Ephesus, by the decree of the most religious and Christian kings ; the Bishops sitting in the most sacred Church, called by the name of Mary ; ( first ) Cyril of Alexandria supplying the place of Celestinus, the most sacred and most holy Archbishop of the Church of Rome. If you take this to be the Notaries fault, read the Mandate which the whole Council gave their Legates when they sent them to Constantinople to the Emperours Theodosius and Valentinian for the enlarging of Cyril and Memnon ; and likewise their petition to the two princes for the same matter. 3 We permit you ( say they to their Legates ) to promise our communion to the Bishops of the East, if they will labour with you, that our most sacred Archbishop Cyril and Memnon may be restored unto us. In their relation to the Emperours, they give the like title to Celestinus, 4 This holy and oecumenical Council ( say they ) with which sitteth the most sacred Archbishop of your great City of Rome, Celestinus.
And though the Provincial Council of Africa willed the name of
ἔξαρχος to be refrained in their meetings ; yet this general Council of Ephesus usually calleth Cyril and Memnon 5 (
τοὺς ἐξάρχους τῆς ἁγίας συνόδου, ) the chief Leaders and Rulers of the holy Council.
Initium Synodi Ephes. Graece conscriptae. 3
Mandatum quod Synodus dedit Legatis Constantinopol. proficiscentibus ca. 73. 4 Relatio Synodi ad Reges missa cum Legatis ca. 109. 5 Relatio Synodi ad Reges de gestis Orientalium ca. 70.
Of the Chalcedon Council you did well to make no doubt ; the name of Archbishop is so often used in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, eighth, tenth, fourteenth and sixteenth actions, not only in the subscriptions, but even in the deliberations & decrees of that Council, that with good conscience it might not be dissembled. Now if you suppose these three general Councils of Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon ; and all the Greek Divines and Fathers there assembled, were so void ; first of learning, that they knew not the force of the word
ἀρχὴ in composition ; then of religion, that they would rob Christ of his proper titles, to increase the pride of men against the truth of the Scriptures ; I must confess I utterly dissent from you, the speech is so hard, that I cannot digest it. If you yield them but reasonable skill in their own tongue, and moderate understanding in the principles of faith, I have my desire. For then not only the function and office of Metropolitans and Primates is as ancient and necessary in the Church of God, as the having and guiding of provincial Synods, and confirmed unto them as lawful by the four first general Councils ; but their very names & places were allowed and allotted unto them by the full consent of the Christian world, even from the beginning, and never since denied or doubted till this present age wherein we live.
[ Contention and ambition of Bishops & Primates did much afflict the Primitive Church, and hinder and disturb the best Councils, the very Nicene Council not excepted. ] Who doth marvel that amongst so many thousands of Bishops as the whole world yielded in so many hundred years, there should be some contentious and ambitious spirits ? Or who can perform that those very weeds shall not grow as fast amongst Presbyters as ever they did amongst Bishops ? Happily in a city where the Magistrate severely represseth the dissention & discord of Pastors, some ten or twelve Presbyters may either be kept in tolerable peace, or presently over ruled by the public state ; but come once to the government of the whole world, as the fathers of the primitive Church did, and then tell me, not what contentions and factions, but what conflicts and uproars your parity of Presbyters will breed. Were the Pastours but of England, France, and Germany to meet in a free Synod ; I will not ask you when they would agree ; but if their tongues be like their pens there wound be more need of officers to part the frays, than of Notaries to write the Acts. Where the primitive Church had one Theophilus and one Dioscorus, we should have twenty. We may sooner flee their offices than their vices ; their affections will remain, when their functions be altered. Where all are equal, there is as great danger of pride and contention, as where one is superiour ; yea, the priority of one man in every province, as we see confirmed by the practice and experience of the universal Church of Christ since the Apostles times, is sooner resisted and better endured, than the waywardness and headiness of so many Governours as you must and would have in your changeable regiment of Presbyters.