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"to their holy covenant; this they urged upon "him with such vehemency, and unwearied impor"tunity, that they prevailed with him to put out "that conclufion." His intention however of admitting it, fufficiently fhews what his fentiments were on this fubject, and how far he was from abetting or approving those violent measures, which were then in agitation for overturning that ancient and apoftolic conftitution of the church, which he wished to fee carefully preferved, wherever it had been regularly established.
We shall only take notice of another teftimony, given by a divine of the prefbyterian establishment in Holland, who could not be fufpected of any prejudice in favour of Epifcopacy. This is the celebrated Mr. Le Clerc, whofe words, as quoted by the prefent bishop of Lincoln, are thefe-"I have always "profeffed to believe, that Episcopacy is of apofto"lical inftitution, and confequently very good, and
very lawful; that man had no manner of right "to change it in any place, unless it was impoffible "otherwise to reform the abuses that crept into "Christianity; that it was juftly preferved in Eng"land, where the reformation was practicable "without altering it; that therefore the protef"tants in England, and other places, where there
This important piece of information is given at full length in a letter from Dr. P. du Moulin to Dr. Durell, and published in the Appendix to his "Vier of the Government and Public Worship of God in the reformed "Churches beyond the Seas." p. 339, 349.
are bishops, do very ill to feparate from that dif ' cipline; that they would ftill do much worse in attempting to destroy it, in order to fet up prefbytery, fanaticifm and anarchy. Things ought "not to be turned into a chaos, nor people seen 66 every where without a call, and without learning "pretending to infpiration. Nothing is more proper to prevent them than the Episcopal discipline, as
by law established in England, especially when "those that prefide in church government, are per"fons of penetration, fobriety and difcretion."— Yet this fame Mr. Le Clerc exhibits a strong proof of the inconfiftency of those writers on this fubject, who, if they do not halt between two opinions, feem defirous however to keep well with both fides; for, arguing in another part of his works, against the neceffity of Epifcopal government, he tells us-"It "is nothing to the purpose to fhew, that Chrift and "his apostles inftituted this form of church govern
ment, and that the church never had any other "kind of government in it for above fifteen hun"dred years from our Saviour's days downwards, "which, though it be fo clearly evidenced, that the "truth of it cannot be denied, yet it is of no weight
nor deferves to be regarded. For those, who "would make the hierarchy necessary to the confti"tution of the Chriftian church, ought to prove, "that God inftituted Chriftianity for the fake of
See Bishop Pretyman's Elements of Chriftian Theology. Vol. II. p. 400, 401.
"the Epifcopal order, and that the Epifcopal order
was not inftituted for the fake of Chriftianity."For if this order was appointed for the fake of "the church (which they cannot deny) they must "alfo acknowledge, that if it be more advantage. "ous to the church in fome places, to have this or"der abolished, it is not amifs to lay it aside in fuch places."
Now this is an argument for abolishing the Epifcopal order, which, if carried to its full extent, will equally ferve to prove the lawfulness or even expediency of laying afide every "outward and visible "fign" in religion, nay even the fcriptures themfelves; fince it may justly enough be faid, that Christianity was not inftituted for the fake of the fcriptures, but the fcriptures were written for the fake of Christianity, that the church might have a certain rule to walk by; and therefore, when any church judges it more advantageous to be without the use of the fcriptures, there is nothing amifs in laying it afide, as the church of Rome has done, for what she is pleased to think the greater benefit of Christianity. By the fame reasoning, the two facraments of baptifm and the Lord's fupper, being inftituted for the fake of Chriftianity, and as outward means of conveying an inward grace, they too may fafely enough be laid afide, when any body of
† Bibliotheque, tom. ix. p. 159. as quoted by Dr. Brett in his Account of Church Government, c. p. 111, 112.
pretended Chriftians fhall feel themselves fo inwardly moved by the fpirit, as to ftand in no need of fuch outward means of obtaining its grace and influence; and the church of Rome is the lefs to be blamed for taking away the cup from the laity, fince according to Le Clerc's argument, fhe might have deprived them of the whole facrament, had fhe thought it more for the advantage of the church fo to do.
These are modes of reasoning, to which, as advocates for the truth as it is in Christ, we can never be obliged to have recourfe. We know, that the holy fcriptures, and the facred inftitutions of Christianity, were defigned by its bleffed Founder to be continued in his church, even unto the end of the world; and therefore neither the church of Rome, nor any other church, can ever fet afide the ufe of the fcriptures, or the miniftration of the facraments, whole and entire, as they were instituted by Christ himself And we fee no reafon, why the fame may not be faid of the Episcopal government of the church, which being appointed by Chrift himself, who had all power given him in heaven and earth for that purpose, cannot be set aside by any human authority, or on any pretence whatever. We do not fay, that Christianity was instituted for the fake of the outward polity of the church, or the church for the fake of the Epifcopal order; but we may justly say, what is plainly faid in fcripture, and was conftantly profeffed in the pureft ages of the gofpel, that the belief of the "holy catholic church," being a part of the faith
which Christianity requires, and the Epifcopal order a part of what we are taught to believe, concerning the conftitution and government of the church, no feparation must be attempted of what our God and Saviour has thus joined together. We must receive his scheme of falvation according to the plan, and the terms, on which he has offered it to us; and notwithstanding all that Mr. Le Clerc and other writers of the fame ftamp have affirmed to the contrary, we must conclude, that the neceffity of Epifcopal government is most undeniably proved, when we fhew that it was inftituted by Chrift and his apoftles, and continued to be the only form of church government for fifteen hundred years and upwards.
The strength of the arguments which we have now been handling in defence of the apoftolic Epifcopacy, lies in this undoubted truth, that the Chriftian priesthood is a divine pofitive inftitution, which as it could have no beginning but by means of God's appointment, fo neither could it be continued, but in the way which he had been pleased to appoint for its continuance. The apoftolic practice plainly fhewed what the method was, which God had chofen for that purpose: For Chrift was in all that the apostles did, and God was " in Chrift reconciling "the world to himfelf." The miniftry of this reconciliation was committed to the apoftles; and we have seen how that miniftry was branched out into three diftinct orders, and that the perfons feverally