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How easy is it to declaim ! How hard to reason ! How easy to make observations! How hard to make them to the purpose ! Every sentence of this quotation is void of force; every sentence of it is calculated ad captandum vulgus [to catch the crowd.] Let us examine it.
You say, that I appear to be afraid of examining the fathers in their natural order. Pray, Sir, how are we to determine their natural order? You say, episcopacy had not an apostolic source. I say it had. You say that a kind of imparity began in the third century, and that episcopacy was not general even in the fourth. To prove that it was, I produce numerous testimonies from writers of that age, and from general councils, to which I add a variety of circumstances, enough, I think, to convince any man that it was universally the government of the Church at that time. This being secured, I inquire whether it originated in the third century. To prove that it did not, I exhibit numerous testimonies from individuals, and from provincial councils, to which I add some events that occurred, which I think comp!etely evince that it had a much higher source. It remains then that it originated either in the second, or in the first century. I proceed, as usual, producing various testimonies, ending wi those of Ignatius, to show that it did not take its rise in the second century. What now is the consequence ? Infallibly, if I am right, that it had its source in the age of the Apostles. Accordingly, I show from Clemens Romanus, who lived and from the Scriptures fairly interpreted, (and the fairness of the interpretation is best determined by the immediate subsequent practice) that episcopacy flows from an apostolic source. And is not this method natural ? I think it is perfectly so. We differ about the source of a river, the Rhine for instance. I say, it is evident from the map of the country, that it originates in the Alps. You say, from the very same map, that it originates somewhere below, but you cannot tell whère. I propose to you to trace it from its mouth upwards. No, you say, that will never it is not the natural order. You must go at once to its
I am very willing; but when we arrive there, you will not consider the marks that I give you of its source being in the Alps, as any marks at all; but rather the marks of another river. And thus we continue contradicting one another,
when we might settle the point at once, by beginning at any given place lower down, and ascending to the head.
But it seems this is by no means natural ; it is, however, in my estimation, you think, a 'master-stroke of policy. Not very masterly that I can see. It is, if you will give it that name, natural and correct policy. Just such policy as you use when preaching ; as a lawyer uses when pleading at the bar ; and as an orator uses when speaking in a deliberative assembly. I take it for granted that you are well acquainted with the nature of the human mind, and with that arrangement of an argumentative discourse, which is best calculated to convince your hearers. Then
you certainly begin with the weakest evidences and arguments, and gradually ascend in a climax of reasoning, continually gathering strength, as you proceed, till at length you come forth in such an accumulation of argument, as subdues the most reluctant mind. Is not this natural? I think it is. You, it seems, do not. But why is it not? You give us no reason. It must then be because you say so. Oh, very well! that is a good
It seems too that I am afraid of encountering the arrangement you have prescribed-afraid of encountering the testimonies of Scripture alone; or the testimonies of the early fathers alone; that I manifest a distressing consciousness, that neither Scripture nor early antiquity will bear me out in my claims.' You really, Sir, have a fertile imagination. What is your proof that I am afraid of encountering Scripture alone ?? Dr. B. has filled about thirty pages with what he calls his proofs that Timothy was a diocesan bishop.'r Second proof? No doubt it is, that Dr. B. has filled three pages with Scripture proofs that the angels in the Revelations were diocesans. Third proof? It must be in like manner, that Dr. B. fills three pages with proofs that St. James was Bishop of Jerusalem. Fourth proof? Dr. B. fills about eleven pages with Scripture proof, that the transaction at Antioch was not an ordination. Sum total from Scripture, fortyseven pages. Therefore, Dr. B. is afraid of Scripture alone. Admirable logic !
Let it be remembered that when I say, I have filled forty-seven pages with Scripture proofs, I include my reasoning on those proofs, which I have a right to do, and then my assertion is correct.
But why, Sir, are we to confine ourselves to Scripture alone? When the question is about a matter of fact, why are we not to take in the whole evidence relating to that fact? Did you ever know a judge on the bench prevent a lawyer from stating all his proofs of a matter of fact, and of his confining him to a partial statement, when the opposite party denied that statement? I presume not. Suppose, Sir, you were disputing with a seventh day Baptist about the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week, how would you manage the debate ? You are both agreed that the seventh day was originally set apart by God himself. He tells you, that there is no decree to be found in the New Testament annulling the old decree, and appointing the first day of the week instead of the seventh. You must necessarily say, 'I can produce no such decree, either by Christ or
It is really very difficult to avoid treating an adversary with some degree of ridicule, who, in the most arbitrary manner, lays down his position as true, without the slightest reason in proof of its truth, and then, thinking that he rests on firm grounds, launches into the most offensive declamation, with a view to disgrace his opponent. In such a case, all that charity can say is, --It is to be hoped that he thought as he spoke.
r Continuation, p. 82. [p. 270, 2d ed.)
by his Apostles'; but you may indeed say, that you can produce something that has the appearance of intimation to that purpose. It is said four or five times, that the Christians met together on the first day of the week. But would he not reply,
It is also said, they met together every day?' How then would you establish your point by quoting these intimations? You certainly would not succeed in the smallest degree. Should you farther say, that St. John, in the Revelations, declares that he was in the SPIRIT on the Lord's day, might not your opponent ask, how do you prove that the 'LORD's day' means any thing more than the day on which CHRIST rose from the dead? How do you prove that it means an alteration of the day for religious purposes ? Sir, it is impossible for you to do it, from Scripture alone. You must have recourse to the unanimous testimony, and universal practice of the primitive Church; and this is enough to satisfy any unprejudiced mind. But were the Sabbatarian to talk as you do, he would say that “Dr. Miller is afraid to encounter Scripture alone; he, therefore, flies off to the fathers. He manifests 'a distressing consciousness' which
speaks more than volumes,' that 'Scripture will not bear him out in his claims. He, no doubt, considers the application to the fathers 'a master stroke of policy;' but I consider it by no means natural."
Now, Sir, although we think the evidence from Scripture alone in favour of episcopacy, tenfold greater than you can produce in favour of the change of the Sabbath ; yet, as you find ways of evading all that we can say on that score alone, we think it highly reasonable to appeal to the primitive writers for a decision of this question. And if it appears from their verdict, that the government of the Church was episcopal, soon after the apostolic age, then we justly infer, that it is founded on apostolic authority. This must be your way of reasoning with respect to the change of the Sabbath; and why it should be deemed valid in one case, and not in the other, I cannot possibly conceive.
To conclude this point. It appears to me very improper that you should intimate, in the remotest manner, your disapprobation of my arrangement. I have a right to take my own way, as you have to take yours. All you have to do, is to answer what I have said.
Another particular which deserves to be mentioned, is, your misrepresentation of me in regard to ruling Elders. You say, Dr. B. perceiving that this position,' (the apostolic institution of these officers,) 'if maintained, would prove fatal to his cause, has endeavoured, with all his force, to drive me from it.' Now, Sir, this is in direct opposition to my own statement. My words are, ‘Were I to admit such an order, still the government of the Church might be placed under Diocesans. As Bishops have not the sole power in ecclesiastical affairs; as Presbyters are their counsellors and assistants in the administration of Church dis
s Continuation, p. 118. [p. 292, 2d ed.)
cipline; so ruling Elders, even supposing them to have an equal share in the government with preaching Presbyters, would by no means invade the negative power of Bishops. Every congregation in this diocese might have two or three men of that order to assist the Rector of the Church with their advice in matters of discipline, and yet be all subject to the Bishop's supremacy. Episcopacy, then, is not at all affected by the decision of this question."
What now, Sir, can you possibly say for yourself? Have you not, with my first volume before your eyes, most grossly misrepresented my sentiments on this point? I say in the most express and unequivocal terms, that episcopacy is not at all affected by the question; and you declare that I perceived the position would prove fatal to my cause. Was there ever a greater outrage committed upon an opponent ? Sir, this is too bad !
I have now done with miscellaneous observations, and shall proceed to examine, in my next letter, what you may possibly deem arguments in favour of your side of the question.
First-You say, " When Dr. B. finds Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, mentioned separately, and distinguished from each other, in some of the early fathers, he never fails immediately to rush to the conclusion, that different orders, or ranks of clergy were intended by this distinct enumeration. But this conclusion is no less illogical and groundless than the former.'
This, Sir, is so far from being correct, that, on the contrary, I have always drawn my proof of episcopal superiority, not from the title, but from the powers exercised. I have repeatedly said, that there is no dependence to be placed upon names, but upon things. Thus, for instance, in the title Bishop, as it signifies an overseer, it is impossible solely from the word, to determine whether that title, in any particular case, is applied to the overseer of one congregation, or of a plurality of congregations. I was therefore particularly careful in every age, to ascertain first, whether congregational, or diocesan episcopacy, was the doctrine and practice of that age; and then, if the latter, I had a right to infer, that the distinction of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, implied different grades in the ministry. And thus I proceeded from the fourth age up to the first, concluding my proofs against congregational episcopacy, with the circumstances of the Churches of Antioch and. Jerusalem, which so completely demolish the notion of a Bishop being the Pastor of a single congregation, that you, Sir, with all your speciousness, have not ventured to meddle with that point again,
1 Letter VIII. (p. 95.]
u Cantinuation, p. 153. [p. 314, 2d ed.]
What now, Sir, are we to think of your assertion, that I never fail to rush to the conclusion,' when there is a distinct enumeration of offices in the Church ? So far from rushing' to the conclusion, that I previously secured every inch of ground. Nay, even after I had demonstrated that diocesan episcopacy was the government of the Church in any particular age, still I did not come to the conclusion, that Bishops and Presbyters were distinct orders or grades, till I had first shown that Bishops possessed powers which Presbyters did not possess. Thus, I proved by numerous quotations, that St. Cyprian presided over several Presbyters, and several congregations; that he was raised to the top of the Priesthood (as he expresses himself) by a new ordination; his orders to the presbyterate being insufficient; that he had the sole power of ordaining and confirming, and the supreme power of the keys; no Presbyter having the power of administering the sacraments but in subordination to him ; and from all these decisive marks I justly inferred, that a Bishop at that time was superior in dignity, in power, and in order, to a Presbyter. And to show you that this was not a solitary instance, I quoted the case of Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, as having also advanced gradually through all the inferior stations;' and that when he was promoted to that see, he was ordained, though a Presbyter, by sixteen Bishops. I also showed that, in the promotion of the Presbyter Sabinus to the episcopal dignity, he likewise was ordained by the imposition of the hands of the Bishops present. To these instances, I added the case of an ordination at Capsis, by six Bishops. I further added the instance of the schismatical ordination of Novatianus by three Bishops, and of Felicissimus, as anti-Bishop of Carthage, by five irregular Bishops.
This, Sir, is one of the grand marks of a Bishop's superiority over a Presbyter, and one which you yourself called for in your first work, and which you again very modestly call for in your second. This is very unaccountable conduct. I really do not know how to proceed with such an opponent. If I give you ever so many proofs, you talk as if I had given you none. If I state facts on grounds that are impregnable, and draw from them the most logical inference, you tell me I am illogical.' If I proceed with the utmost caution, feeling every step of the way, you tell me that I rush to my conclusion. In the name of patience, Sir, what am I to do with you? Will nothing satisfy
The superiority of Bishops over Presbyters being thus proved, in the third century, it settles the point that, when Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons are distinctly enumerated, the writers
v Vol. I. p. 96, 97. [p. 46, 47.]