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thy depraved passions; to guard them against the storms of temptation and the destroying frosts of sin and wickedness? If in these things thou art wise and prudent; if thou hast well secured a good store of these fruits, thou mayest say to thy soul, (not with the folly of him who pulled down his barns that he might build greater, and have where to bestow his goods) but wisely thou mayest say, Soul, take thine ease; for thou hast provided a store that will not fail : It will enliven thy heart and cheer thy countenance, when thy limbs totter on the brink of the grave, when thy sight grows dim with seeing, thy ears dull of hearing, and all thy bodily senses are blunted by age. It will accompany thee to the grave, and stand thee instead, during its long winter. It will be thine everlasting portion when time shall be no more. If the autumn of thy life is come, and thou hast not profited by this instruction, and dost not now resolve to do so, thou art altogether inexcusable : And little more admissable is they excuse, if thou art in the earlier part of life ; for autumn will soon arrive. Seize then the present time, and hear instruction. The book of nature, as well as that of grace, is before thee; an important page is now open to thy view. Before it closes, study it well, and imbibe the divine wisdom it inculcates. Let this and every succedivg season make thee wiser and better, and then, when seasons shall cease to roll, eternal blessedness shall be thy portion.
A SERIES OF LETTERS, Addressed to the Author of the “ MisceLLANIES," published in the
year 1805, in the Albany Centinel.
LETTER II. IN my former letter, I pointed out some of the absurditics, in which the advocates for ministerial parity, and its consequent, a · change of government, are unavoidably involved; and, if my under
standing do not fail me, it has been demonstrated, that the change can never be accounted for on the ground of corruption, art and intrigue; but if it could, it is obvious to common sense, that we should have some record, some hint at least, of so important an event. The late Dr. Campbell, the learned Principal of Marischal College, Aber. deen, is totally dissatisfied with all the usual modes of accounting for this supposed change. He tells us, that it cannot be ascribed to corruption, for that is contrary to matter of fact; the Church being then in great purity, and the clergy distinguished for their virtue and piety.-So far, so good. But when he gravely informs us, “that he is so far from thinking, that the ambition, or the vices of the first ministers gave rise to their authority, that, on the contrary, he is certain, that this effect is much more justly ascribed to their virtues ; that there is nothing which men are not ready to yield to distinguished merit, especially when matters are in that state, wherein every kind of pre-eminence, instead of procuring wealth and secular ad, vantages, exposed but to greater danger, and to greater sufferings."
When he thus gravely talks, I cannot help exclaiming, as you do
on another occasion, “ here let the reader take breath and compose himself.” Virtue and religion changed presbyterian into episcopal government! What pity then, the presbyterians did not let episcopacy remain in the Church, when it sprang from so pure a source! And what a reflection upon the Church of Scotland, for destroying the legitimate offspring of so amiable a parent ! But we may be sure, the Doctor meant no compliment to episcopacy. His design is to shew, that piety is more likely to obtain concessions, than barefaced attacks. Piety will indeed be applauded, admired and loved by the virtuous; but it will never induce men to sacrifice invaluable rights; for that is contrary to the well known principles of human nature. And what sort of virtue and piety could that be, which led the presbyters to offer to some of their own order, episcopal preeminence; and those to whom it was offered, to receive it; both parties well knowing, that it was contrary to the will of Christ? And what were they to get by thus depraving the government of the Church? They certainly could expect no reward in the next life for their transgression. Their views then must have been wholly confined to this life. And what did this offer to the presbyters for degrading themselves, and to the bishops for receiving this unchristian boon? For the former, imagination can devise no equivalent; as to the latter, did they derive from it wealth and secular advantages ? No; poverty and contempt were their certain portion. Had they less suffering and greater security? No ; but almost inevitable death and every species of torture. “ As soon as an edict passed for persecuting the Christians in any part of the Church, the Bishops were immediately aimed at, as the most guilty persons, and the first that were exposed to the fury of their persecutors. As their danger was thus imminent, their labour too was often no less severe ; for upon them was laid the principal care of the flock, which frequently required the greatest vigilance and attention in the shepherd. To the undergoing of all this toil
and trouble, they were impelled by a sense of duty; and were supported under it, by the hope of having their services accepted by their blessed master. But could they have felt the force of this motive or indulged this hope, had they been conscious at the same time, that they were violating his commands in arrogating, (or receiving) a power and pre-eminence which he had expressly forbidden? And of this they must have been conscious, had their episcopal superiority been an infringement of the apostolic institution, and an entire subversion of that system of ecclesiastical parity, which, by their Lord's command, the teachers of the nations had formed and left with his Church, that it might be there retained to the end of the world."*
The mode which the learned Doctor adopted to account for this unaccountable change of government, involves him in greater absurdities than any fiction of his predecessors. It is ascribing to piety what nothing but monstrous depravity could have suggested; it is ascribing to the human mind action without motive, which is palpa
* See Bishop Skinner's answer to Dr. Campbell's lectures, p. 318. The Bishop's reply to the learned Principal, is an excellent performance, and ought to be in the hands of every one, who wishes to have a fair view of this contro.
ble nonsense ; it is supposing the bishops to be idiots, in accepting a superiority, from which no advantage could result, either in this world, or in the next; and lastly, it supposes all subsequent writers and councils to be grossly ignorant, or stupidly credulous, in regard to the apostolic origin of episcopacy.
There is another way to which some have had recourse, to relieve themselves in some measure, if not entirely, from these perplexing difficulties; but it is so little to the purpose, that I should not think it worth while to mention it, were these papers to fall into the hands of none but men of learning. Some have said, although it is difficult, if not impossible, to shew when diocesan episcopacy began; yet that is the case also with respect to Popery, which is now a wide spread mischief, and which we are certain did not exist in the apostolic age. But this is gross misreprentation, and it evinces how hard pushed our adversaries are, when, rather than give up their opposition, they will have recourse to it. We can tell when Popery began, and we can bring it down to the reformation, with all its successive usurpations. Thus the first that assumed the title of universal bishop, was John, bishop of Constantinople ; against whom Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome, entered the lists. Gregory declared, that none of his predecessors ever assumed such an arrogant title. Yet Pope Boniface 3d, the second after Gregory, obtained this title from Phocas, who deposed and murdered his master Mauritius, the emperor. This was in the 7th century. And from this beginning, we can show the progress of the usurpation of the Popes, and the violent struggles of the bishops against it, even down to the council of Trent; and remarkably so in the year 1682, by the whole body of the bishops and clergy of France. And not only in point of government, but also in our disputes with the Church of Rome, about the doctrines of purgatory, invocation of saints, tranzsubstantiation, half communion, prayers in an unknown tongue, &c. we are able to tell the beginnings of them, and the time when there was no such thing. If any one can shew this with respect to episcopacy, erit mihi magnus Apollo.t
I have now shewn, in as brief a manner as I could, by arguments, which, to my mind are irrefragable, that diocesan episcopacy had not its origin in the 2d century. We must therefore ascend to a higher source; and that will be found to be apostolic authority.
To me, Sir, it seems very unreasonable, that those learned presbyterians, who have conceded that the Church was episcopal in the 2d century, should rather involve themselves in inextricable difficul. ties, than take a safe and unerring path. If they would proceed upwards to the apostolic age, and deal fairly with the writings of Ignatius, the celebrated bishop of Antioch, he would conduct them to the true source of episcopal pre-eminence. But no; they beg to be exe cused from that. It would be putting thcir heads into the mouth of a lion ; there would be an end of them at once. Something therefore must be done with Ignatius; and what way so compendious as to decidedly pronounce his cpistles not genuine.
Ah, my good father! hadst thou been a friend to ministerial pari+ This is the second point, on which I request an amicable discussion with the author of Miscellanies, &c.
ty, thy writings would be some of the most precious remains of antiquity. No tongue would have uttered one syllable against thee, but all would be approbation and eulogy.
The seven sinaller epistles of that illustrious martyr, have been received as genuine by the most learned men in Europe, and they have been most triumphantly vindicated by bishop Pearson. He has demonstrated their genuineness, and reduced every opposer to the dilemma of either admitting them, or giving up all the writings of antiquity. We may therefore apply to such, without any great breach of charity, what the learned Grotius, in a letter to Vossius, says of Blondel : “ The epistles of Ignatius, which your son brought out of Italy, pure from all those things, which the learned have hitherto suspected, he (Blondel) will not admit, because they afford a clear testimony to the antiquity of episcopacy.” Undoubtedly, that is the very “head and front" of the offence!
To me, Sir, it is very singular, that when you quoted Mosheim as. unfriendly to the epistles of Ignatius, you did not perceive his striking inconsistency. He says, (as Grotius in the above quotation that there would have been no dispute about them, had they been silent upon the point of episcopacy ; and then observes, that they are involved in obscurity, and that there is ground to suspect them. Is not this plain language? And to what does it amount ? Undoubtedly to this
do not quote them in favour of episcopal pre-eminence, and we will admit them to be genuine ; but if you do, we will enter our caveat against them. Fie, sir, fie !!
I should now, without any reserve, quote these genuine epistles in favour of the episcopal dignity; had not your able opponents given pretty large extracts from them, and were they not well known by all who read upon this subject. I shall therefore only beg that it may be remembered, that these epistles were written seven or eight years after the death of St. John, with whom Ignatius was intimately acquainted, as well as with the Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, by whom, according to the ancients, he was made bishop of Antioch. The testimony of such a man is absolutely decisive. But you are pleased to treat these epistles with very little respect; and to cut the matter short with four words—they are not genuine”; but if they were, you would not admit them as proof, if they contradict the scriptures. You are certainly, Sir, very correct in the latter idea. But may it not be proposed ad vestram verecundiam. Is it probable, that you wbo live in the 19th century, should be as well acquainted with the governinent of the Church and the sense of scripture in relation to this, or any other point, as a man who lived in the days of the Apostles, and was intimately acquainted with several of them; whom all
# Usher, Vossius, Grotius, Hammond, Petavius, Bull, Wake, Cave, Cote. lerius, Grabe, Dupin, Tillemont, Le Clerc, Bochart, Fabricius, and many others. Even Dr. Lardner, a dissenter of great repute, says, “I do not affirma that there is in them any considerable corruptions or alterations. See bishop Horsley's letters to Dr. Priestly, p. 34.
F I quote from memory, not having the author at hand; but I believe that I am correct as to the ideas.
This is the 3d point, to which, I request the author's particular attention.
acknowledge to be a man, of the most exalted virtue, and the most consummate piety; and who submitted to a horrible death rather than renounce his Saviour ? Would it not be natural for you when reflecting upon this subject, to reason in soine such manner as the following ? Ignatius certainly bears pointed testimony to episcopacy; that he was mistaken, supposing him to be in his senses, is morally impossible ; or that he did not speak the truth, virtuous and pious as he was, is utterly inadmissible. Perhaps I am wrong in the interpretation which I give to one or two passages of scripture ; nay, it must be so upon the ground of fair evidence and just principles of criticism, which ought to be the guide of a rational being. Mine is but an opinion, in which the wisest of men may err; his testimony is to a fact, concerning which, unless he was a fool, or a knave, he could not err. He saw with his eyes what government the Apostles, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, had instituted; he heard with his ears what they taught, and could have had recourse to them whenever he was at a loss for their meaning. He might therefore have known from the Apostle himself, had he been in any doubt about it, what he meant by “the laying on of the hands of the presbytery," and the sense which I give to that text, being utterly inconsistent with the testimony which he bears, one, or the other of us, must be grossly mistaken, and which it is, the impartial will be at no loss to determine." These are the ideas (one would suppose) that would naturally occur, and this the mode of reasoning that candid reflection would suggest (almost necessarily) upon this subject.
There is, if I judge correctly, one short mode of determining, whether the epistles of Ignatius be genuine, or not; I mean, considering them merely as they bear testimony to episcopacy. You know, Sir, that presbyterians suspect their genuineness, only in the article relating to the government of the Church; for they will, withiout any ceremony, quote them upon other points. This is arbitrary enough, but such is the fact. Now Sir, be so good as to read these epistles, and expunge all the passages which relate to the government of the Church, and you will find nothing left but disjointed sentences without sense, pertinency or design. Even the opinion, that Ignatius was not the author of the epistles ascribed to him, (unreasonable as it is) is more defensible than this. But on this subject, I shall say no more than just to observe, that we are in full possesion of them upon every fair principle of criticism, and you can try your strength upon them, whenever you please.*
To Ignatius may be added his contemporaries Philo and Agatho* Hard is the fate of ancient writers ! exclaims the sensible Dr. Chandler. For if they do not luckily countenance modern opinions, either their credit will be directly attacked, or their arguments ridiculed, or sophistically evaded; and if nothing less will serve, the authenticity of their writings, and perhaps that such persons ever existed, will be disputed. And when an obstinate op. position is once undertaken, whether from interest, or spleen and malignity, there is no ancient author, not even some of those of the holy bible, but that such adventurers may be able to do some injury to their reputation and authority. This remark accounts for much of the opposition St. Ignatius met with in the last century; prejudice and a partial attachment to particular sys. tems may probably-account for the remainder..... Appeal, &c. p. 9.