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ministry of ordaining, settling, removing, or judging ministers

-of resolving questions of doctrine or discipline-of condemning erroneous opinions;" in short, "of ordering whatever pertains to the spiritual concerns of the Churches under their care." Not a hint is given of any one of these particulars. He says no more than that seniors or elderly men were consulted ; but that the custom was grown into disuse in his time. And yet out of this you endeavour to draw Ruling Elders, who had concern, and no small share of it, in spiritual matters. And you speak with so much confidence, that one would really suppose the fact was as clear as the sun. Elderly men were consulted; there fore there were Ruling Elders, who shared in the spiritual government of the Church. A very logical inference to be sure !

' But what decides the question (as you say) is, that in the fourth century this plan of having Elders to assist by their counsel in the government of the Church, had chiefly grown into disuse.? And from this circumstance you seem to think that Hilary's Elders must be of the ruling kind, otherwise the Church must have become so corrupt as to thrust all aged persons out of its communion; 'or, is the more venerable and aged were suffered to remain,, were they never more consulted in cases of difficulty and danger ?! This is most extraordinary reasoning! Either the aged must have been consulted, or they must have been excluded from the Church. But what necessity is there for consulting them ? Certainly, in ordinary cases, there is none; the Bishops and Clergy are able enough to do without it; but in times of great difficulty and danger, as in the first three centuries, when the Church was under terrible persecution from the Heathen, all its collected wisdom would be deemed necessary. The aged part of every congregation would then be consulted. But when Christianity became established, and the Church enjoyed the favour of the government, this practice ceased, although there was still enough of difficulty arising from the persecutions of the Arians and other heretics to have kept it in the Church. But the Clergy, indulging sloth or pride, dropped the practice. That any thing more can be made out of this passage, is utterly beyond my comprehension.

But supposing, Sir, there was a bench of Elders chosen by the people to represent them, as your Form of Government speaks, does it appear from Hilary that they had any thing more to do than to give their advice to the Bishops and Clergy? There is not the least appearance of anything further; not the least appearance of their having any concern in the spiritual government of the Church. Your conclusion then is mere arbitrary assumption.

It appears to me very extraordinary, that if there was an order of Lay Elders in the Church, not one of the great commentators or historians of antiquity should give us any hint of it. St.

* Presbyterian Form of Government,

Jerome, whose learning you admit, in his commentary on the texts quoted, does not give us the least hint of it. He was as quick sighted as you are, and yet he could not see any Lay Élders in Scripture; nor in the more early ages of antiquity. Nor after him could the historians Socrates and Theodoret. The learned Chrysostom also gives us no hint of the kind. Nor does Eusebius, alihough he enumerates the orders of the Church, perhaps fifty times in his history. Nor does one of the councils, either general or provincial. And if we go into the third century, nothing is to be found there in your favour--nothing in Origen, Clemens of Alexandria, and Tertullian-nothing in Irenæus, or any writer of the second century. Supposing then that your testimonies were good for the fourth century, still the rule of Lirinensis and St. Augustine totally fails. The institution cannot be supported by antiquity, universality, and general consent ; and, therefore, is, not apostolic.

On the account I have given of this whole matter from the learned Bingham'and Albaspinæus, you cheer yourself with a laugh. They say, there were Seniores Ecclesiæ, [Elders of the Church,] who were chosen to assist the Bishop with their advice in the weighty affairs of the Church; and also Seniores Ecclesiastici, [ecclesiastical Elders,] who were entrusted with the treasures and outward affairs of the Church, as our Vestries are; but neither of them is considered by them as of apostolic institution. The Seniores Ecclesiæ, you say, were the Lay Elders of your Church. And you add, 'It is really laughable to find Dr. B. conceding in substance all that we desire; and yet, on account of some petty points of difference, which are too frivolous to be noticed, and which do not affect the main question, insisting that there is nothing like our Lay Elders to be found in primitive times.'

Now, Sir, the_petty points of difference' are the following: The Seniores Ecclesiæ were not of apostolic institution ; you say your Lay · Elders are. This, to be sure, is a very 'petty point of difference.' The former were not a component part of the Presbytery; the latter are. Another petty point: The Seniores Ecclesiæ had nothing to do with examining candidates for the ministry-with resolving questions of doctrine or discipline-with condemning erroneous opinions--with ordaining and judging of ministers. Six more petty points of difference. But still, no doubt, the inference is good, sound, and logical. The Seniores Ecclesiæ differ in eight important points from Presbyterian Lay Elders ; therefore they are the same. Certainly, I deserve to be laughed at for asserting there is nothing to be found like Lay Elders in primitive times !

Next we are presented with a curiosity of another kind." A quotation is given from the Apostolic Constitutions. Till now they were not worth regarding ; too corrupt to be depended upon; but suddenly they are freed from their stains, and are very good evidence for Lay Elders. Another circumstance in

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this curiosity is, that they were composed between the second and fifth centuries ; but you do not tell us when the words quoted were written, whether in the third or fourth century. If in the fourth, the quotation is not worth a straw, if Hilary speaks truth; and if in the third, there is not a shadow to be found for Lay Elders, but the words of this quotation. Let us then examine them. Thus they run--".To Presbyters also, when they labour in teaching, let a double portion be assigned.” On this you say,

Here is, obviously, a distinction between Elders who are einployed in teaching, and those who are not so employed. If it were obvious, I think that I am not so blind, but that I should perceive it. The only distinction that I can perceive is that of labouring, or being laborious in preaching, and not being so. If the distinction you wish to establish was intended, the words would have been, " To Presbyters also, when they labour in teaching, let a portion be assigned double to that of Ruling Elders." This would be clear; but in none of your quotations is there any language, that has the least claim to perspicuity; nor is even the title given in Scripture, or in all antiquity. I doubt, whether there ever was a stronger instance of prejudice, than is afforded by the frequent attempts that have been made to establish Lay Elders on apostolic usage; while, at the same time, their advocates can resist the numerous, positive, and direct testimonies of the first five centuries in favour of the apostolic origin of episcopacy. But so it is; episcopacy has been abandoned by a few; and that few, we may be assured, will never cease opposing it. If I could be surprised at any quotation you may

think proper to give, it would be at your mentioning Bishop Taylor as granting, that a set of men, called Seniors, existed in the Church at an early period. You cannot tell us where the acknowledgment is made, but you are sure it is to be found somewhere. This, I suppose, is quite sufficient to balance my long quotation from him against Lay Elders; quite sufficient to balance a whole chapter in his Episcopacy Asserted, against them ; quite sufficient to balance the following strong language: “ The thing is so evident [that there were never any Lay Elders in the Church] that it is next to impudence to say that, in antiquity laymen were parties and assessors in the consistory of the Church. It was against their faith ; it was against their practice ;” and, speaking of the quotations from Ambrose and Austin, he says, “they are but like sophisms to prove that two and two are not four ; for to pretend such slight, airy imaginations against the constant, known, open catholic practice and doctrine of the Church, and history of all ages, is as if a man should go to fight an imperial army with a single bulrush.11

You next endeavour to force Ignatius into the service of Ruling Elders. I really thought that I had so completely settled this point, that you would not have ventured to say one word more upon the subject. But you possess a hardihood that is not easily diminished. In your second attempt, you do not produce a single instance in all the Epistles of Ignatius, of a distinction between Ruling and Preaching Elders. Now, is it not an extraordinary thing, that when the holy martyr so often enumerates the different orders of the Church, he should never once mention Ruling or Lay Elders ?

1 Episcopacy Asserted, p. 165.

In my Eighth Letter I gave a few instances, out of many that might have been given, of the utter impossibility of making the Epistles of Ignatius accord with the notion of Ruling Elders. Let me repeat in substance what I there said. 1.“I exhort you, that you study to do all things in a divine concord-your Presbyters (both Preaching and Ruling Presbyters) in the place of the council of Apostles; and your Deacon's being intrusted with the ministry of Jesus CHRIST."— Your Ruling Elders in the place of the council of the Apostles. This cannot be true in any sense, as the Ruling Elders did not preach nor administer the sacraments. How then could they stand in the place of the Apostles ? 2. “Let no man do any thing of what belongs to the Church without the Bishop. Let that eucharist be looked upon as valid, which is either offered by the Bishop, or by him (Preaching or Ruling Elder) to whom the Bishop has given his consent." You certainly will not allow your Ruling Elder, even with the Bishop's leave, to celebrate the eucharist. 3. “ It is not lawful without the Bishop (for Preaching or Ruling Elders) either to baptize or to celebrate the holy commumion." Would any Bishop among you give leavé tó a Ruling Elder to baptize? Now, what is your answer to all this? It is,' even supposing his Presbyters to be Ruling Elders, and supposing him to mean, that they with the Bishop's (or Pastor's leave) might administer both sacraments; this would only show that Ignatius was in an error, as Tertullian was after him, who, in his work De Baptismo, after asserting that the administration of baptism was appropriated to the office of Bishop, does not scruple to say, that even a layman may baptize with the Bishop's leave. This is a curious specimen of reasoning! You first take for granted that Ignatius had Ruling Elders, and then say correctly enough, that he was wrong to permit them to administer the sacraments. This is connecting a just observation with a supposed fact, for the purpose of making the observation prove the fact. Your business is to show from the Epistles, that in fact, there were Ruling Elders in the Churches to which he writes; of which there is not the most distant appearance; not one expression that can be tortured to that meaning. If a man be allowed to argue in this manner, he may prove any thing.

It is absolutely incredible that Ignatius should mention Deacons over and over again, and yet never once hint that there was an officer in the Church inferior to preaching Presbyters, but superior to Deacons. What sort of a writer is he, who, in

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his repeated enumerations of officers, whether civil, military, or ecclesiastical, mentions the lowest grade, but never once the grade immediately above it? Would not every one suppose that there was no such grade ?

After you have given us your store of proofs from the Gesta, Austin, and Ambrose, in the fourth century, and after a feeble. attempt to draw Raling Elders from the Epistles of Ignatius, you give us several testimonies from foreign divines in favour of Ruling Elders. But to what does this amount? Just thus much -that there were such officers in the Churches to which they belong, and, in their opinion, in the primitive Church. You might just as well have given us a list of your own ministers, who believe in the apostolic institution of that office. If numbers are to decide the question, you know very well that we can produce fifty to one against you. You had better, therefore, avoid this mode of deciding it. I have tried the question by the proper evidence, Scripture and antiquity; and there it is very evident you have no support whatever. Could we give no more proof of episcopacy than you do of Ruling Elders, I am sure we should make a very ridiculous figure. And how you can reject the one and cling to the other, when there not least comparison between the evidence, is, to me, one of the most extraordinary instances of prejudice that can possibly be named. But the human mind is a strange thing; it can close itself against the clearest evidence, when it does not correspond with its prepossessions, and be satisfied with the most insufficient, when it does.

You have given us, Sir, two quotations from Archbishop Whitgift, to prove his favourable opinion of the apostolic institution of ruling Elders. It is very unaccountable how you can quote him for your purpose. If you have read him, you must know, that he rejects Scripture warrant for Lay Elders. On the text in the first Epistle to Timothy, he says—" Although St. Paul makes a distinction, yet it is certain, that under this name Seniors, he doth comprehend such only as the ministers of the word or sacraments. And I have before sufficiently proved, that the administration of the sacraments may be committed to some, to whom the preaching of the word of God is not committed. And this distinction of ministers doth this place very well justify." He then quotes Chrysostom, Jerome, and Ambrose against your sense of the text.

Again : He says to Cartwright, “But I pray you do thus much for me. First, prove that there was in every congregation such as you call Seniors. When you have done that, then show me that that office, and kind of regimen, ought to be perpetual, and not rather to be altered according to the state and condition of the Church. Last of all, that those Seniors were lay men, as we call them, and not rather ministers of the word and Bishops."

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VOL. II.--9

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