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ness of its professors, they have heated their imaginations, and bewildered their understandings so as not to make a fair estimate of the subject. None of them would willingly be thought the advocates of vice and immorality ; yet it is no new assertion to say, that they may be so in fact, by seeking to lessen or destroy the influence of that religion, which contributes so much to the improvement of manners ; which bars the way against licentiousness, and controuls the corrupt passions of men.
That such has been and is the effect of Christianity, notwithstanding the numerous vices that poison the peace of social life, I now proceed to shew. And what is become of those enormities, those Hagrantly licentious practices which have been enumerated ? If they are not altogether banished from the earth, they are at least driven to hide themselves in obscurity. They are rendered so odious that few have the hardihood to venture upon them openly. Sobriety, temperance and chastity are exalted into virtues of the first rank, which, at the utmost, used to be placed among those of a lower or. der. Humility and meekness have taken place of their opposites, pride and ambition. Kindness and charity to the needy, which were scarcely so much as named among heathens, stand conspicuously forward on the list among Christians. And here it may be worth while just to notice, that all those noble institutions which do so much honour to the human heart, which display the godlike virtue of doing good ; such as hospitals and places of retreat for the neces. sitous, supported by the liberality of such as have the means and the disposition, owe their origin altogether to the spirit of Christianity, They were absolutely unknown in the world before the light of the gospel shown. This is a fact, with which perhaps many are unac. quainted, and ought therefore to be informed of its truth. Of the beginning of these charitable institutions, we have very early and authentic notices, even in the word of God; for we read that the disci. ples every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea : Which also they did, and sent it to the elders, by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.* But as I intend to handle this point more largely in some future essay, for the present I shall thus lightly pass it over, and go on to some considerations of a more general nature.
No sooner had the gospel spread itself over the Roman empire, than its professors were noticed to be more sober and regular in their manners, and more kind and benevolent in their dispositions, than their heathen neighbours. This their enemies were obliged to confess; for it was a common saying amongst them, See how these Christians love cach other. The favourable testimony of an enemy is always to be taken for true; we cannot therefore doubt but there was something very remarkable in their conduct. And what wonder it should be so, when we consider the spirit and tendency of the religion they professed, and that what they professed they felt, and what they felt, they acted. And would to God, the same might be said, with truth, of us their successors; for bles. sed and happy would be the fruits of such a conformity between our words, and our actions; we should not so often, as we now do, give * Acts xi, 29, 30.
infidels a handle to condemn our profession. But the most reraarka ble testimony to the point we are upon, is that of Pliny, a learned and judicious man, and a Pagan ; who being governor of one of the Roman provinces in a time of persecution, wrote to the Emperor a sort of remonstrance which is still extant; and in which he feelingly pleads the cause of Christians. He tells him (I pretend not to give his words, not having the book before me) “ that his armies are full of them ; that many are in the magistracy; that they are faithful, upright and obedient subjects; and ought not to be molested on account of their religion. And there is no one, in the least acquainted with the early Christian writers, but knows that they not only opposed the debasing superstitions of their heathen neighbours, but strictly abstained from, and severely inveighed against the horrible vices that prevailed : And that to avoid every appearance of evil, they would not be seen in the company of the profligate, To avoid temptation, they avoided scenes of amusement, where vice might be recommended. That we their successors have sadly degenerated from this strictness of manners is not to be disputed. Since Christianity has become the fashionable religion, there are many, too many, nominal professors, who have none of the spirit and power of what they profess; and consequently shew none of it in their conduct. But still it may be maintained, that neither these, nor others who make no profession, go to that flagrant enormity in vice, which prevailed in the pagan world. Either the force of example, the fear of shame and reproach, or some sparks of what they profess or see professed, keeps hold of their hearts, and restrains their conduct. Hence we are every day reaping important benefits from the Christian religion ; greater degrees of temporal peace and happiness ; which should make us cautious, had we no other reasons, (which God be thanked we have) of listening to those who would gladly destroy its influence.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINY.
[Continued from page 99.), HAVING proceeded thus far in reasoning out of the scripMures upon the Episcopal form of Church government, it is perhaps unnecessary to pursue it any farther. I cannot, however, willingly dismiss the subject, without appealing to Christian writers, who live ed immediately after the Apostles, to find whether my reasonings and conclusions are warranted by them..
And first may be noticed a passage from the writings of St. Clem-ent, whom St. Paul, in his epistle to the Thessalonians, calls his fel. low labourer, whose name is in the book of life ; and who, as ecclesiastical history informs us, was afterwards ordained a Bishop by St. Pe-
This Clement, in an epistle he wrote to the Corinthians, says of the Jewish Church" To the High Priest his proper offices were 6 appointed, the Priests had their proper order; and the Levites * their peculiar services, or deaconships; and the Laymen what was
- proper for Laymen." This he applies to the Christian Church, and to its offices of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon, in order to show how exactly it harmonized with that of the Jews. And when it is considered that he lived in the very time of the Apostles, and was acquainted with several of them, his testimony must appear to be of great weight.
But again :-St. Ignatius, who suffered martyrdom but four or five years after the death of St. John, gives us a greater variety of testimony upon this subject. Ecclesiastical writers say he was con'secrated Bishop by the hands of St. Peter, and presided over the Church at Antioch forty years or more ; of course he must have been well acquainted with the Apostles, and with the government of the Church in their days. Let us then hear what he says upon this subject. In writing to the Trallians, he observes— Do nothing 56 without the Bishop ; be subject to the college of Presbyters ;" and let the Deacons, who are the mystery of Jesus Christ, by 66 all means please all men; for they are not only Deacons of
meats and drinks, but ministers of the Church of God. In like * manner, let all of you reverence the Deacons, the Bishop and the « Presbyters ; without these a Church is not named.” Again * He is an alien, or out of the Church, who does any thing without “ the Bishop, and Presbytere, and Deacons.” In writing to another Church, he exhorts “ the Presbyters, and Deacons, and Laymen, to “ do nothing separate from the Bishop," or without acknowledging his authority. To the same Church he says, “ I exhort you to do 6 all things according to the mind or will of God, the Bishop presi6 ding, and the Presbyters in room of the Apostles, and the Deacons - entrusted with the ministry of Christ.” He also wrote to the Church at Philadelphia, which is mentioned in the book of Revelations, and directed his epistle to those who were in unity with the « Bishop, and Presbyters, and Deacons." And this shows that there were three orders of ministers in that Church, and that he did not consider any as Christians, but those who acknowledged their authority, and adhered to their ministry. In that epistle he says, that, « as many as are with Christ, the same are with the Bishop :" and as some had revolted from their Bishop, he tells them, that “ those " who repent, and return to the unity of the Church, shall be accept“ ed of God, and live according to Jesus Christ." This implies, that those who did not adhere to the Bishop, or to the Church which was governed by Bishops, did not follow Christ, and were not entitled to his promises. And in this way he continues his exhortation : “My « brethren, be not deceived ; if any man shall follow him that makes
a schism or separation in the Church, he shall not inherit the king* dom of God."
Whether his opinion in this case was perfectly right or not, in thus cutting off from salvation all who did not adhere to their Bishop, is a point not now under enquiry. Let that be as it may, it clearly proves what he understood and knew to be the constitution of the Church ; that it had three orders of ministers, two of them in subordination to the Bishop ; and this is what now we undertake to He proceeds further in the same strain, recommending to the people unity and submission to their Bishop, and his inferior Clergy. « Endeavour (says he) to partake of the one Eucharist or Sacrament; “ for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the un« ion of his blood, and one altar; so there is one Bishop, with his Pres6 byters, and the Deacons my fellow servants, that whatever ye do, ye may
do according to God.” Again—" Give heed to the Bishop, «« and to the Presbyters, and to the Deacons : Without or separate « from the Bishop, do nothing;" which relates to the Church. This venerable minister of Christ also wrote to the Church of Smyrna, which is mentioned in the Revelations; and this letter was written but a short time after St. John's death. He says to the people “ Flee divisions as the beginning of evils: All of you follow the 6 Bishop, as Jesus Christ the Father; and the Presbyters as the Apos« tles; and reverence the Deacons as the institution of God. Let no
one do any thing of what appertains to the Church without the « Bishop," or without having respect to his authority. “Let that “ sacrament be judged effectual and firm which is dispensed by the « Bishop, or by him to whom the Bishop has committed it." He concludes this epistle to the Smyrnians thus:-" I salute your most « worthy Bishon, your venerable Presbyters, and the Dcacons, my « fellow servants.” He also wrote another epistle to the same place, in which he thus exhorts the people:“Give heed to your Bishop, “ that God may hearken unto you."
He then addresses the Bishop of Smyrna, who was a disciple of St. John, and afterwards died a martyr of Christ-"Let nothing be done without thy judgment and approbation." Here then are five epistles, written to four different Churches, all of which he mentions as having three orders of Ministers; and he exhorts the people in the strongest manner to adhere to this Episcopal form of government, because those who separated from the Church of Christ, would of course be separate from Christ himself. And if it is considered that this Ignatius was a scholar of St. John, was ordained by St. Peter, and was acquainted with several of the Apostles for more than thirty years, it must be acknowledged that he knew what orders of ministers the Apostles appointed; and they being inspired and likewise acquainted with their Master, must have known what was agreeable to his will. Consequently it ought to be acknowledged, that the Episcopal form of Church government, consisting of three orders, was of divine appointment, ke that among the Jews.
But again: St. Ireneus, Bishop of Lyons, who was instructed by Polycarn, the disciple of St. John, and who lived within fifty years from the time of St. John's death, says thus im We can reckon “ those whom the Apostles appointed Bishops in the Churches, and “ who they were that succeeded them, down to our own times." This shows that the Apostolic authority in the various Churches was considered as descending in the line of Bishops, and that it had descended regularly to his time.
Clement, of Alexandria, also, who was called the most learned man of that age, lived about the same time. In a sort of Catechism which he wrote, after he had selected some texts of scripture, which
set forth the duties of Christians in general, he says, “There are “ many other precepts which concern men in particular stations* some which relate to Presbyters others to Bishops
and others “ to Deacons." He also informs us in other parts of his writings, that St. John, after his return from Patmos, went about the country near Ephesus, and in some places ordained Bishops, and in others Clergymen, by direction of the spirit. And again, he speaks expressly of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons; and says he thinks they resemble the orders and degrees of angels.
Tertullian, about twenty years later, says, “ That the power of " baptizing is lodged in the Bishop; and that it may be exercised 5 by Presbyters and Deacons, but not without the Bishop's com* mission."
About the year 200 of the Christian era, ora hundred years from the death of St. John, flourished the great Origen, who was scholar to Clement, of Alexandria, and was probably the most learned man in the Primitive Church. He gives decided testimony upon this subject. He teaches, “that besides duties common to all Christians, * there is a duty peculiar to Deacons, another to Presbyters, and ano. “ ther to Bishops, which is the greatest of all, and required by the “ Saviour, who will severely punish the neglect of it.” So that he plainly makes Bishops superior to Presbytere and Deacons, by the appointment of Christ. He also distinguishes the three orders by name, in several other passages, which could be mentioned.
St. Cyprian, who was twenty years later, declares, “ That Valeri. " an, the Roman Emperor, wrote to the Senate, that the Bishops, and * Presbyters, and Deacons, should be prosecuted.” He also says, many other things to the same purpose; among the rest, he affirms, " that Bishops are descended by succession from the Apostles:" and he severely blames the Presbyters and Deacons, for intruding upon the Episcopal authority. And to show that this order of Church government continued in the succeeding ages, we find that Optatus, about the year 365, says, “ The Church has her several members,
Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and the company of the faithful." And again, in addressing a heretic, who despised the orders of the Ministry_“You found in the Church, Deacons, Presbyters, and “ Bishops : You have made them Laymen, and thus have subverted k souls."
And finally : St. Jerome, who wrote about the year 380, and who did not pretend to be any thing more than a Presbyter, declares, * That the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and that they “ hold the Apostles' place or office." And likewise, in another place, * We may know the Apostolical economy to be taken from the Old « Testament; for the same that Aaron and his Sons, and the Levites “ were in the Temple, the Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons are, in * the Church of Christ.”
But if quotations from the Ancient Fathers can be received in evi. dence upon this question, we have produced enough to decide it. Though, if necessary, we could mention hundreds more of the same kind, and to the same purpose. Indeed, so clear and forcible is the evidence of this kind-o constantly and invariably da the Primitive