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name. And I further observed, that it is a most extraordinary instance of attachment to a hypothesis, that you, who make a community of names an argument in favour of parity (which, by the way, is a mere fallacy) should insist that two essentially different characters are designated by the same title. A capacity for teaching appears to be essential to an Elder. St. Paul tells Timothy and Titus, that Elders must be apt to teach, able by sound doctrine both to exhort, and to convince the gainsayers; and we never once in the Scriptures find the epithets ruling and preaching given to Elders by way of distinction. To these observations you have made no reply; and I must think that you did not reply, because you could not.
Another argument which I advanced against Lay Elders is, that by the rule of Scripture all Elders are entitled to a maintenance. Then Lay Elders must be entitled to it. I admit that this is not by any means a forcible argument; nor did I consider it as such. I mentioned it merely to show the improbability that the Church was burdened with the appointment of officers, who were not at all necessary. The preaching Presbyters had a right, from their commission, to govern, as all acknowledge; and their government was entirely confined to spiritual matters, or, in other words, to the power of the keys. But had you proved the fact that Lay Elders were of apostolic institution, this kind of argument could have no weight, as probabilities in reasoning can never be admitted against the evidence of fact. It was only on the supposition that you had not proved the fact, that I considered this circumstance as affording a degree of probability, that Lay Elders would not have been appointed.
The sum then of what has been said is this-The text we have been considering does not afford the least ground for support of Lay Elders. A distinction among the Elders spoken of there was; but it was a distinction of personal exertion, not of office. None of the Elders we read of in the New Testament have the epithet lay applied to them; and, in several instances quoted, they are expressly marked as ministers of the word. The Presbytery mentioned by St. Paul necessarily excludes them, unless we allow them power to ordain. And, lastly, as the rod of discipline put into the hands of Pastors is entirely of a spiritual nature, and founded altogether on the administration of the sacraments, Lay Elders can have no share whatever in the spiritual government of the Church, and, consequently, are a mere human invention.
But if we cannot find this order of men in the New Testament, perhaps we may in the writings of some of the fathers. Now, allowing this to be the case, with what consistency can you appeal to them-you, who will not allow the unanimous testimony of the fathers in favour of episcopacy to be conclusive, if we cannot find it in the Scriptures? Surely, this is most extravagantly unreasonable. If there is but a shadow in the fathers in your favour, you eagerly catch at it; but if we produce numer
ous and decisive proofs from them in our favour, they are not worthy of regard. I should think it quite enough for you to contradict the universally received principles of evidence; but to be inconsistent too, is rather too much.
Another striking instance of your inconsistency, is your beginning your testimony for Lay Elders in the fourth century, after you had made a terrible outcry against me for pursuing the same method. In me, it indicated a distressing consciousness of the weakness of my cause;' in you, it is, no doubt, a proof of the goodness of your cause. In me, it was 'unnatural;' in you, it is perfectly natural. My testimonies are depreciated, because the age was corrupt; yours are not in the least affected by that circumstance. You seem to have completely adopted the principle of the lawyer in the fable-" If it was your ox that gored my cow, that is a very different matter."
But, Sir, as I wish to possess that charity which beareth all things, I will, in my next letter, patiently examine your testimonies, and give them all the consequence they deserve.
You first quote the Gesta Purgationis Cæciliani et Felicis, in which are these words- -"the Presbyters, the Deacons, and Elders;" and again," call the fellow-clergymen, and Elders of the people, ecclesiastical_men, and let them inquire what are these dissentions." Further: a letter read in that assembly was addressed "to the Clergyman and the Elders," and another "to the Clergymen and the Elders."
Now, Sir, the first observation I have to make is, that you are exceedingly inadvertent with respect to testimonies. After these quotations you produce Hilary saying, that these Elders were out of use in his time, which was the fourth century, the very age in which Optatus lived. If they were out, of use at that time, what are the quotations from the Gesta good for? If they were not out of use, what is the quotation from Hilary good for? One of them certainly is good for nothing, as they are flat contradictions. To which then will you adhere? For surely you will not insist upon my answering both sides of a contradiction. Till you pronounce your election, I am, by the laws of fair disputation, under no obligation to answer either; and even then it would be quite sufficient to set one quotation against the other, and leave our readers to strike the balance. But, Sir, I can easily excuse you--In longo opere, fas est obrepere somnum. [In a long work, we must allow a man sometimes to nod.] Notwithstanding I am under no obligation to take any further
notice of this contradiction, yet I will fully and fairly examine all that you have said.
On the two passages quoted from the Gesta, you ask, 'What can this language mean? Here is a class of men expressly called ecclesiastical men, or Church officers, who are styled Elders, and yet distinguished from the clergy, with whom, at the same time, they meet and officially transact business. If these be not the Elders of whom we are in search, we may give up all the rules of evidence.'
The Elders then in these passages being called ecclesiastical men, and distinguished from the clergy, must be your Lay Elders, who are concerned in the discipline of the Church.
Now, Sir, I wonder you did not recollect that St. Cyprian calls singers and readers ecclesiastical men. Are they for that reason to be deemed an order of apostolical institution, and concerned in the discipline of the Church? Nay, the holy martyr calls readers, clergymen.' Are readers of apostolic institution? Why then are your ecclesiastical Elders to be founded on apostolic sanction? And if because they are distinguished from the Clergy, they are Ruling Elders, with whom are they to be ranked? Not among the Clergy, for they are distinguished from them; not among the laity, for they are distinguished from them also. With whom then are we to rank them? for they belong to neither clergy nor laity. I believe, among the creatures of imagination.
You produce two passages of similar import from Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. He speaks of "Peregrine the Presbyter, and the Elders of the Mustacan district." And again; he addresses one of his epistles to his Church at Hippo, "To the beloved brethren, the Clergymen, the Elders, and all the people of the Church of Hippo." And then you observe, 'There were some Elders in the days of Augustine who were not clergymen, i. e. Lay Elders.' Then, I say, there were in the days of Augustine, Elders, who were not of the people. I ask again, if they were neither Clergymen nor laymen, what were they?
And here I would put you in mind once more of my observation with respect to this order of men, supposing them to have had an existence in the primitive Church-that diocesan episcopacy is not at all affected by it. Here we have proof from fact that the observation is correct. You will have it that they were in the Church in the fourth century, and yet you acknowledge that diocesan episcopacy prevailed in that age. Were you then to establish your point, you do not in the least injure episcopacy. Let our readers remember this.
Your next quotation is from Cyprian's twenty-ninth epistle, directed" to his brethren, the Presbyters, and Deacons." In this epistle he thus speaks: "You are to take notice that I have ordained Saturus a reader, and the confessor Optatus a subdeacon; whom we had all before agreed to place in the rank and degree next to that of the clergy. Upon Easter day we
made one or two trials of Saturus in reading, when we were approving our readers before the teaching Presbyters, and then appointed Optatus, from among the readers, to be a teacher of the hearers." On this passage you quote Marshal, the translator of Cyprian, thus speaking-"It is hence, I think, apparent, that all Presbyters were not teachers, but assisted the Bishop in other parts of his office." It would have given a fairer view of Marshal's opinion, had you given the whole note. I will supply the defect. Of teaching Presbyters he says, “ these were the stated judges of the fitness of such as were to be the teachers (in a lower form) of the hearers." According to Marshal, some of the Presbyters were appointed to instruct, not by preaching, but (probably) by catechizing the hearers, who, he expressly says in the next note, were catechumens. And "hence it is, I think, apparent, that all Presbyters were not teachers, but assisted the Bishop in other parts of his office;" that is, all the Presbyters were not appointed to teach in this inferior manner; but were employed in assisting the Bishop by preaching, administering the sacraments, visiting the sick, and exercising discipline: "So that the ministry then was not solely nor singly a preaching ministry;" but Presbyters were appointed to teach the people in a more easy and familiar manner than public preaching will admit. Hermas, in Vision 3d, hath the mention of these teachers; and St. Paul alludes to them in 1 Tim. v. 17. It is very probable that the original of this distinction was founded in extraordinary gifts, which, in our author's time, were not totally discontínued; nor were, therefore, the offices founded on them. But we read of no distinction between teaching and other Presbyters in later times, when it is agreed that miraculous gifts were quite ceased. The thing, however, continued all along in some form or other, and there were always in the Church some non-teaching, as well as teaching Presbyters, when the nominal distinction was utterly abolished."
Thus it is evident, that, had you given the whole of Marshal's note, he would appear to be directly opposed to your lay and preaching Presbyters. The distinction is that of teaching, not of ruling Elders; and that only till extraordinary gifts had ceased. Whether he is right or not is another matter; but it is certain that neither he nor Cyprian give the least hint of Ruling Elders.
On this passage from Cyprian you also quote Bishop Fell. But he seems to be of the same opinion with Marshal. He says, "Inter Presbyteros, Rectores & Doctores, olim distinxisse videtur Divus Paulus, Ep. i. ad Tim. iv. 17.” But he does not say that this distinction was that of Ruling Elders, without the power of preaching and administering the sacraments, and of Elders with that power. This is evident from his observing in the same note, that Optatus, the reader, had been lately devoted or set apart to the instruction of the catechumens. This is the kind of teaching Elders spoken of by Fell and Marshal as distinguished from the Priests.
I find, Sir, that you have not brought to view again the case of Numidicus, from Cyprian, nor your testimony from Origen. At this I do not wonder; for you certainly were completely defeated as to those testimonies.
You next take us back from the third to the fourth century, and once more produce the testimony of Hilary. It begins thus: "For indeed, among all nations, old age is honourable. Thence it is (from this respect to old age) that the Synagogue, and afterwards the Church, had Elders, without whose counsel nothing was done in the Church; which, by what negligence it grew into disuse I know not, unless, perhaps, by the sloth, or rather by the pride of the teachers, while they alone wished to appear something."
Now, Sir, whatever may be the meaning of this passage, you, as I have already observed, are not entitled to any benefit from it, unless you will give up the quotations from the Gesta and St. Augustine; which, if your interpretation be correct, prove Hilary to have spoken an untruth; unless a thing can be in use and out of use at the same time. Yet, as your testimonies are so very few, and but shadows at the best, you shall have them all and welcome.
On this passage from Hilary, you observe, "It is scarcely credible to what a miserable expedient Dr. B. resorts to set aside the force of this testimony. He insists upon it, that the pious father only meant to say, that in former times the elderly men of the Church used to be consulted, which custom is now laid - aside.'" And again-' He says nothing more than that it was formerly customary to consult the aged; no doubt in difficult situations of the Church, which frequently occurred in the first three centuries, while persecution lasted.' Upon this you observe, "it is difficult to answer suggestions of this kind in grave or respectful language. Can any man in his senses believe that Hilary only designed to inform his readers, that in the Jewish Synagogues there were persons who had attained a considerable age; that this is also the case in the Christian Church, and that in difficult cases, these aged persons were consulted? This would have been a sage remark indeed.' Were you, Sir, an ingenuous opponent, you would not suppose that I meant to tell my readers, that there were aged men in the Church, which every child knows to be the fact; but that aged, grave, and sensible laymen were much consulted in the primitive times of the Church, when she was so often thrown into critical situations, and reduced to distressing straits. But in Hilary's day the aged were not consulted, but the clergy conducted every thing at their own pleasure. Now, that there is not much sageness in the remark is true; but there may be truth in it notwithstanding. Hilary does not say, that these seniors were Ruling Elders; he does not say, that they were a component part of every Presbytery; he does not say, that they with the pastors have the 66 power of examining and licensing candidates for the Gospel