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to be the governor or bishop of that church. By doing this, you wil extricate yourself effectually ; otherwise you must remain involved in contradiction and absurdity.
It being thus evident, that Timothy was ordained by the Apostle Paul, not in his inferior character as presbyter, but in his superior as Apostle, we are not at all concemned, about any interpretation you can give to the words of the other text, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. If you say, that by the presbytery is meant a number of mere presbyters without any Apostle at their head; we say, that cannot be ; for either these presbyters did, or did not ordaia. If they did ordain, then they conveyed, as appears from the epistles to Timothy, what they did not possess, which is absurd. If they did not ordain, then they expressed nothing but approbation ; and this proves, that the distinction between meta and dia is a just and proper one. And thus you see, Sir, by only attending to the episties, we have an infallible clue to guide us to the truth; so far as to determine, that presbyters have no power of ordaining, which is all that we want, but not so far as to determine, whether the presbytery in the text, was composed of Apostles, or presbyters, with an Apostle at their head; but that, to our cause, is quite immaterial. For if the presbytery was composed entirely of Apostles, (which I think highly probable) still I conceive, that the Apostle who used het words, by which the commission was conveyed, was the ordainer; and that the other Apostles expressed nothing by imposing their hands, but approbation. If this opinion be correct, then it is of no manner of consequence, whether the presbytery was composed of Apostles, or mere presbyters, provided the latter had an Apostle at their head, who conveyed the commission.
But, if St. Paul's acting as a presbyter at Timothy's ordination, cannot be madc out, you then have recourse to another conjecture, and that is, that the text in the Hl of Timothy, does not relate to ordination at all, and you produce Dr. Whitby in your favour. Dr. Whitby, you well know, stands almost, if not quite alone in that opinion. But † will not dispute the maiter with you ; if it will afford you any pleastire, I will give up that text-have it, Sir, just as you wish.
Then the other text is your strong hold; with, or by, (whichever you choose) the layng on of the hands of the presbytery. Now, Sir, if we allow you to manage this text as you please, no doubt the Geo neva parity will be the issue ; but if you will suffer St. Paul to guide you, he will point you to the epistles to Timothy, and tell you in words which can convey no other ideas, that he sent his beloved son in the faith to Ephesus, where there was a number of presbyters to govern these very presbyters, the deacons and the laity, in all spiritual matters; and to ordain, and censure, and regulate all the affairs of the church With this fact staring you in the face, to which also the primitive writers bear testimony, I do not think, this text will af. ford you any resting place. If the former text must be given up, then the consequence is unavoidable ; either, that the presbytery was composed of a number of Apostles, as presbyters could not ordain ; the epistles being our warrant; or that this text also, has no relation to ordination. You are perfectly welcome, sir, to choose which you please.
If these observations, together with those of your ingenious adversaries, Cyprian and the Layman, have not completely demolished the mud walls you had raised about presbytery, all I have to say is, that you have only to invite people to look at them, and to see with their own eyes, that they are still standing.
I have said, that it is highly probable, the presbytery which ordained Timothy, was composed of a number of Apostles. Although this is immaterial to you, sir, if presbyters cannot ordain, yet as some of our episcopal readers may wish to know the evidence upon which that opinion is founded, I shall give it to them as briefly as I can.
Chrysostom, in his commentary upon the place says, that the presbytery was composed of St. Paul and some other apostles. Theophylact and Oecumenius understand the matter as Chrysostom did. Ignatius too, seems to be of that opinion, or welt might be ; for in his epistle to the Philadelphians, he calls the apostles alone, the presbytery of the Church. The authors of the Ethiopic version, translate the passage, “ by the laying on of the hands of the bish. ops ;” they were therefore of that opinion. The latin fathers translate the word presbytery by stratus ; and we all know, that the Roman senate was the first permanent order of men in the state. But the circumstance which weighs most with me, is, that the primitive Church, in the first and best ages, must have so thought; otherwise, this case would have been an example for them to follow; and we cannot reasonably suppose, that men who were so tenacious of apostolic usages, would have so readily and so universally departed from this precedent, as they undoubtedly did; for we have no hints of any such practice till the fourth century, when the fourth Council of Carthage decreed, on prudential grounds, that the presbyters present, or some of them, should lay on their hands with the bishop's. * But this canon had no operation in the eastern Church; the bishops went on as usual, and to this day, they alone impose hands in the ordination of presbyters. A very unaccountable thing, if those who laid on their hands with St. Paul, were no more than presbyters.
I am now led to take notice of another passage, wbich you produce in favour of presbyterian ordination. But here again, my friends Cyprian and the Layman have left me little to say. I shall make but a few observations.
The passage you quote is from Acts xiii. 1, 2, 3. “ In this passage” (you say) “ let us attend to the following things.”. “ 1. The authority by which the ordination was performed." The Holy Ghost said. Now, sir, you have, by noticing this, completely defeated your own purpose. What better authority, could even three or four laymen have for ordlaining than, The Holy Ghost said. Produce this authority in all your ordinations, and we will give you the right hand of fellowship instantly. I will engage, that there never will be another dispute upon this subject, while episcopacy exists. But you tell us, that this direction from the Holy Ghost, “ was necessary in the first examples of ordination ; otherwise, the practice of the Church
• Perhaps it would have been better, if this canon had never been made ; for then we should have had throughout the Christian world, a uniform pructice, from the apostolic age.
† See Arbp. Potter on Ch. Gor:
would rest upon the inventions of men.” That is, if St. Paul had not been thus ordained by men, at the command of the Holy Ghoal, his former ordination by Jesus Christ himself, would rest upon the invention of men. I cannot understand this ; perhaps others may. You go on—“ The command which was then given is now our authority, and the pattern which was then set, we must scrupulously follow.” That is, the command which was then given by the Holy Ghost to certain prophets and teachers to ordain Paul and Barnabas, is now our authority for ordaining A. B. and C. although no such command is given to us; “ and the pattern which was then set we must now scrupulously follow," although it was an extraordinary case, which all men agree can never be a pattern for ordinary prac. tice. This, I suppose, was one of the shot which brought “ Fort Episcopacy" to the point of surrendering. Further ; "though we have no immediate inspiration, yet we have that which was dictated by it, and this is our sure and only guide.” You mean, undoubtedly, the scripture. Then the sense of the passage is as follows:Though we presbyters have no immediate inspiration for ordaining A. B. and C. yet we have the scripture which was dictated by it, which scripture teaches us, in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, that presbyters have no authority to ordain, and this is a sure and only guide or warrant for us presbyters, when we act contrary thereto. This may possibly be good logic at Albany, but I doubt whether it will be thought so any where else.
Under your second head of observations you say, “Though they [Paul and Barnabas] had before this been commissioned by Christ as his apostles, yet they were now separated or set apart to their work by the rite of ordination.” Do you mean sir, to make a distinction between commissioning and ordaining? If you do, pray what is the difference? If you do not, I beg you will let us know, what was the use of a second ordination ? Was not the first good enough? After St. Paul had been for nine years, (according to Dr. Whitby') in the exercise of the apostolate ; after he had been laborious beyond all the apostles in preaching, ordaining, and governing, then, we are told, when he was going among the Gentiles, it was necessary or expedient, that he should be re-ordained. Suppose, sir, your synod were to think it necessary to send you among the Indians to preach the Gospel, and previously to your going, observe that it would be expedient, that you should be re-ordained, what would you think of it? I will answer for it, that you would tell them, such a measure was preposterous, and that you would not submit to it.You would certainly think correctly, and act with propriety. Why then, Sir, will you not think as correctly in the case before us?
The only thing that can be said in favour of une opinion, that this transaction was an ordination is, that they prayed, fasted and impose ed hands. But you do not consider, that it was while they were mine istering to the Lord and fasting, that, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul, &c. They did not meet for the purpose of separating Barnabas and Saul, but while they were performing some religious acts, they received the divine command. Let this circum
* Annot. Ep. Gaat i.v.
stance be particularly attended to. And what was that command ? Was it to convey sacerdotal power in any degree to these Apostles ? No such thing is intimated; on the contrary, St. Paul positively declares, that he was an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.* The design of that imposition of hands, was evidently, to give them a solemn benediction, upon their departure to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. And when they had accomplished this important work, they returned to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, by prayer for his assistance, for the work which they fulfilled. Can any thing be more clear, than that this was the sole design of the transaction.
There appears to have been a similar case, when St. Paul was going forth a second time from Antioch, to visit the Churches. And Paul chose Silas and departed, being recommended by the brethren to the grace of God. This account is not so particular as the other, but the recommendation was most probably attended with prayer and imposition of hands : at any rate, prayer was essential to it.
Weigh now, Sir, impartially, all that has been said, and then tell us, whether it is credible, that this transaction was an ordination. But were we to allow it, it would be of no kind of service to you. I shall continue my chain of proofs in my next letter.
EXTRACT FROM A CHRISTMAS SERMON;
ON ISAIAH XXV. 9, And it shall be said in that day, lo, this is our God; we have waited for him and he will save us; this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
AMONG all the Prophets, no one has more clearly pointed out the character and offices of the Messiah ; the time, manner, and circumstances of his appearance in the world, than Isaiah ; which has occasioned him to be called the Evangelical Prophet. Wrapt into future time, he beheld things to come as if they were present -with a rapid glow of eloquence he throws together the events which were to accompany and follow the coming of Christ, in the civil and moral world; among the Jews, and among other nations ; not only such events as naturally resulted from the preaching of the gospel, but such as depended on the civil polity of nations, and the jarring interests of men in power. Of this kind of mixture of events, slightly yet intelligibly touched upon, we have a remark, able instance in the 25th chapter.--What the Prophet saw at a great distance in future, and pointed out with so much clearness, has come to pass. Long ago it was said, Lo this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us ; this is the Lord, we have waited for him ; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. This hath been said by many nations and languages ; and all the other events spoken of in this chapter have had their fullfilment. In order then to confirm our faith in the word of God, and to shew that Jesus was the Messiah promised, who was to come into the worki to take away sins, and open unto us the gate of everlasting life; let us attend to these predictions.
Gal. i. 1.
He begins with a solemn address to God; O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done wonderful things ; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth-Clearly foreseeing, that the design of God with regard to a Saviour would come to pass; he describes the event as already passed. His eyes being opened by the spirit of God, he saw future things as God Beeth; to whom all things are present. He saw the wonderful incarnation, birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ, to redeem men from sin; he saw all certainly to be fulfilled in its time, and gave glory to God for his faithfulness and truth. And since we also have seen it come to pass, so let us do in our hearts. God has indeed done wonderful things in his holiness, for which we should be glad and rejoice.
But the Prophet proceeds to speak of an event which soon followed-Thou hast made of a city an heap, of a defenced city a ruin; e palace of strangers to be no city, it shall never be built. This relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, which by the Roman armies was indeed soon made a ruin, and has never since been built, though several times attempted; and once by a Heathen Emperor, on purpose to defeat this and such like prophecies; but wir himself defeated in the attempt, by the immediate interposition of God. *
With the quickness of thought, we are next presented with the spreading of the gospel into all corners of the Roman Empire, which then included almost all the civilized world; Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee; the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee. No people ever more justly deserved the character of strong and terrible than the Romans, to whom these words undoubtedly relate. In the vision of Daniel, under the figure of a beast, great, strong, and terrible, with iron teeth, they devoured, and stamped the residue with the feet. Yet this people, this strong and terrible, glorified the Lord by embracing the Gospel; and that in some good degree, in consequence of their own victories over the Jews. For Dothing is more natural than to suppose, that by dispersing that people among themselves, many acquired a knowledge of the word of God, of its wonderful prophecies, and their fulfilment; especially those that relate to the Messiah : and thus a door was opened to the first preachers of the gospel, to labour with more success in converting the world to the faith. The Providence of God, while it fulfilled another prophecy, and made use of the Romans to punish his rebellious people, by dispersing them into all lands, provided by natural means for the accomplishment of his great work, the erection of the Messiah's Kingdom. In consequence of the fall of the Jews, the Romans were received into the Church of God. Therefore, says the Prophet, the strong people shall glorify thee.
But strong as they were, they also were to fall; for in the same concise manner, he directly adds; Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers as the heat in a dry place, even the heat with the shadow of a cloud; the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low:-And
It is a well authenticated fact, that when Yulian the Apostate attempted to rebuild Jerusnlem, with a view to defeat the prophecies concerning its utser desolation, the workmen were forced to desist from the undertaking by balls of fire issuing from amidst the rubbish which they were removing.