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then laymen must have concurred in the ordination, not of a mere Presbyter, but, on your principle, of a still higher officer, an Evangelist; which is absurd, and altogether inconsistent with the practice of your own Church. You have therefore nothing to do with the texts in question; you are utterly precluded by the notion you entertain of a Presbytery, and consequently they are left entirely in our hands. But, I confess that it is not an easy matter to determine, whether the word signifies a number of Presbyters, with an Apostle at their head, or a plurality of Apostles, who were concerned in the ordination. Some prefer the one interpretation, and some the other. If the latter be preferred, mere Presbyters are out of the question. If the former, the Presbyters laid on their hands to add to the solemnity, and to express approbation; otherwise they ordained, on your hypothesis, an officer superior to themselves, which common sense rejects.
But against the notion of the Presbytery laying on their hands merely to express approbation, Dr. Mason vehemently contends. Well, let it be that the notion is not correct, but that the Elders had as much to do in the business as St. Paul. Then I ask, in the words of the Doctor, "What ordination did Timothy receive? Was he ordained a Presbyter," or an Evangelist? "If the former, his character as an" Evangelist, "in so far as it depends upon his ordination, is swept away; and we have not a single instance of the consecration of an" Evangelist "in all the New Testament;" and, consequently, he and you have no right to make the office of an Evangelist a distinct office in the Church. "If the latter," an Evangelist," how came Presbyters to impose hands upon the head of an" Evangelist, who, according to him, was a superior officer? Thus you see his mode of reasoning against prelacy completely destroys his and your notion of the superior character of an Evangelist, if it has that effect on prelacy.
Again: If the Presbytery consisted of clerical and lay Elders, did lay Elders impose hands to make Timothy a Presbyter, or merely to express approbation? You cannot say the latter on your own principles; the former therefore must be your choice. Then laymen conferred an authority which they themselves did not possess, which is impossible. Or if they did possess it, then they were not laymen, but Presbyters. So that you and the Doctor must either give up your lay Elders, or admit that they laid on hands merely to express the approbation of the Church, whose representatives you tell us they are. That you will not give them up, I am fully satisfied. Then they had either an equal share with St. Paul in ordaining Timothy, or they imposed hands merely to express approbation. But neither of these you will allow; then where is Timothy's commission, if St. Paul alone did not ordain him? Where is the example of ordination by Presbyters, which, the Doctor tells us, is all that the Presbyterians desire?
It is now, I think, inevitable, that you and Dr. Mason must either admit the distinction between dia and pera, or you must allow of a clerico-laico ordination, which involves gross absurdity.
Notwithstanding this is the alternative to which the Doctor is driven, yet he labours very hard to prove that the usual distinction between the prepositions is not correct. He says, "The fact is, that this preposition (dia) never signifies the cause of a thing, whatever the Lexicons say. It expresses the idea of transition or transmission, and has no English word to correspond with it so well as the preposition through. Whether it is accompanied with the notion of a cause or not, must be determined by the phrase where it occurred."
After this ex cathedra decision, it will not do to quote Lexicons and grammars, however favourable they may all be to our side of the question. Let them then lie on their shelves, and let us have recourse to original writers.
"The fact is, that this preposition never signifies the cause of a thing."
I open my Greek Testament, and find these words: Пlavra di AVTOV EYEVETO--all things were made by him. Was not the Eternal Word, the cause, the Creator of all things?
Again: Paul an Apostle of JESUS CHRIST, BY the will of GOD--(a.) Was not God's will the cause of Paul's appointment to the apostolate? He was in the world, and the world was made By him (di' avт8.) By whom we have received grace and apostleship (dia.) CHRIST was the efficient cause.
Rom. i. 5. Paul, an Apostle (not of men, neither By man, but BY JESUS CHRIST (dia.) Not man, but JESUS CHRIST was the efficient cause of the Apostle's commission. Gal. i. 1. GOD is faithful, By whom we were called unto the fellowship of his Son JESUS CHRist our Lord (dia.) GOD was the efficient cause. 1 Cor. i. 9. A hundred such instances might be produced. The Doctor then is not perfectly correct when he says, dia never signifies the cause of a thing. He is, however, correct when he says, this preposition expresses the idea of transition or transmission." With a genitive case, it very frequently has that meaning.
But all this serves no other purpose than to show that Dr. M. is not quite so correct as he thinks he is. It has no effect on the argument; for he acknowledges that to translate dia by the word through will answer our purpose very well, provided the preposition μera excludes the Presbyters from conveying authority by the imposition of their hands. Thus he speaks-" But in spoiling the Layman's criticism, we acknowledge, that we have not overthrown his argument. For if the imposition of Paul's hands was the medium through which, to the exclusion of the Presbytery, he alone conveyed the ministerial commission to Timothy; and if this act of his formed a precedent for all subsequent ordinations, the Layman has won, and we own Timothy to have been episcopally ordained."
It seems then that we lose nothing by our translation of the preposition da, and if we can but make out that μɛтa signifies approbation in the passage quoted, we shall win the cause.
Now this I take to be an unfair requisition. After the proofs we have given from a long line of fathers, for three or four centuries, that Bishops were a superior order to Presbyters, and that, consequently, they were the ordaining officers; and after the proofs given from the Epistles to Timothy of his superiority over the Presbyters, backed by Dr. M.'s own acknowledgment, it is rather hard that we should be required to rest the whole system of ecclesiastical polity on the vague and doubtful meaning of a Greek preposition. The preposition, it is agreed on both sides, signifies concurrence, joining with, association. But the question is, for what purpose? Was it to express approbation? Or to ordain? This can never be determined merely by the sense of the preposition. Nor will the word Presbytery determine who were the component members. If Apostles, or apostolical men, then Timothy was episcopally ordained. If it was composed of mere Presbyters, then he was ordained not only a Presbyter, but also an Evangelist, with powers superior to the Presbyters of Ephesus; which is impossible, as on this supposition, inferiors ordained a superior. And still further, laymen concurred in the ordination. I see no possible way for you to extricate yourselves from this absurdity, but by supposing with us that Timothy was ordained by St. Paul; and that the Presbytery, of whomsoever composed, laid on their hands for no other purpose than to express approbation. This supposition is perfectly consistent with the whole tenor of the Epistles to Timothy, and with the sentiments and practice of the primitive Church; but your hypothesis is utterly inconsistent with both.
When I consider that not one allowed instance can be produced in all antiquity of mere Presbyters ordaining, it strikes me with astonishment, that men can be so unreasonable as to found their cause on a single text, in the meaning of which they themselves cannot agree. Some Presbyterians make the Presbytery to consist of clerical and lay Elders; some of clerical only: some, that St. Paul acted at the ordination of Timothy merely as an Elder; others, that he acted as an extraordinary officer. When you tell us what you would be at, and take such unequivocal ground, that we shall know where to find you, we shall then direct our arguments against a precise position, and be no longer under the necessity of following you in all your doublings and windings.
Enough has, I think, been said on this subject. About sixty pages have been filled, in this and my first work, with arguments and proofs in favour of Timothy's episcopal superiority over the Presbyters of Ephesus; and every thing material that you and Dr. M. have said, has been shown to involve you in difficulties inextricable. Timothy, if I do not deceive myself, has been fairly seated in the episcopal chair of Ephesus.
The next point which it is necessary for me to review, is the Epistles to the seven Churches of the Lesser Asia. Ón this head you have made but few observations; relying on Dr. Mason's 'luminous and able Review of the Episcopal Essays in the Christian Magazine. To the Doctor's light, then, let us turn our eyes. But this shall be the subject of my next letter.
THE principle on which Dr. Mason proceeds is that the Stars and Angels are not to be considered individually, but that each Star and Angel is a symbol for the ministry of each of the seven Churches. That Stars are symbolically expressive of ministers, I readily grant; and I grant further, that when the words are used without restriction, we have no right to infer superior and inferior grades of ministers. The question then simply is, whether there are any conditions in the text, which warrant us to say, that there was a superior minister in each of the seven Churches? The Doctor thinks there are none; and endeavours to prove it by several considerations.
Before I notice what he has said, it may be well to observe, that there were numerous congregations of Christians in the several cities named in the text. We know from the Scriptures, that in Ephesus there were thousands of converts, and a body of Presbyters; and you say, there were lay Elders also. Consequently, if by the Angel of the Church of Ephesus is meant the whole Presbytery, as you and Dr. Mason represent the matter, the words of the text must agree with the office of a lay Elder; but as that office relates solely to discipline, the symbol Star and the term Angel, cannot possibly correspond with the lay, as well as with the clerical part of the Presbytery; consequently the Doctor's principle falls to the ground.
Let us now examine whether this is really the case.
1. With respect to the Church of Ephesus. Chap. ii. 1. Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus write. 2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: 3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except
thou repent. 6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
The propriety of a symbol depends altogether upon analogy. A star which sheds material light, is a very proper symbol of a minister who diffuses intellectual light. But the lay Elders, who 'do not preach the word of life, diffuse no intellectual light; and as they are an essential part of the Presbytery, the Star cannot possibly be the symbol of that collective body.
Again: The Angel, according to the Doctor, represents the Presbytery of the Church. But the word, as every one knows, signifies a messenger. Now, the lay Presbyters deliver no message from the LORD OF HOSTS; and as there can be no Presbytery without them, consequently the Angel cannot represent the Presbytery.
'But do not the star and the Angel represent the clerical part of the Presbytery? They do, if the Scripture says so; but the text says no such thing; therefore it is mere assumption.
Further: A Star in the sacred writings, is never used for the symbol of a plurality of ministers. The Doctor himself produces no such instance. He says, 'JESUS CHRIST is a Star; the twelve Apostles are stars-and so are the Apostate Clergy, figured by the third part of the stars, which the dragon cast down with his tail to the earth.' This is very correct; but who does not see that stars being the symbols of ministers, and a star being the symbol of ministers, are very different? No instance that I know of can be produced from the Scriptures, of a single star being the symbol of a plurality of ministers. The symbol would not be correct; a constellation would be the proper representative.
The Doctor might therefore have saved himself the trouble of quoting More, and Fulk, and Mede, and Stillingfleet. They all speak of stars being proper symbols of ministers; but not one of them says that, a star is used as a symbol of a plurality of ministers.
But supposing it to be the case, that the Stars do not represent the lay Elders, who do not preach the word; and that a single star is never used for a plurality of ministers; yet, on the other hand, how can a single star represent a single Minister, when he is not the only source of light in a Church? It will not be maintained, Dr. M. supposes, that the Bishop alone did all the preaching, gave all the instruction, and set all the example: i. e. emitted all the light on account of which Ministers are called Stars. The other clergy had some share in these useful functions. They too preached the word: they too taught from house to house: they too let their light shine before others. Now, one Star being appropriated to one Church, as one candle is to one candlestick; it follows from the nature of the comparison, that as one candle is the full complement of light for one candlestick; so one Star is the full complement of light for one Church. But the light which shone in these Churches did not