Part III. Chapter VI.
Of ordinations of anti-bishops, which, though always schismatical, are not always nullities.
What I have said in the foregoing chapter, I think may be sufficient as to the point of communion with anti-bishops and then adherents. But I conceive it may not be amiss to add something further concerning their orders; since the validity or invalidity thereof, is of greatest consequence and importance to the church at such times.
One thing, indeed, is said by St. Cyprian, about the ordaining an opposite or anti-bishop against another, in a church already filled, as when Novatian was set up at Rome against Cornelius, viz. that the anti-bishop is no bishop: whence some conclude, that in reality he has not the episcopal powers conferred on him. Since after the first, there cannot be a second bishop, says he, or two bishops at once in the same church, whosoever is ordained after one is already in, who ought to preside alone, he is not really a second bishop, but no bishop at all.
And if such opposite or anti-bishops, receive or retain no episcopal powers, it is sure they can confer none. And then, they are really neither bishops, not priests, who are ordained by them. And so, neither good baptisms, at least according to the opinion of the Africans, nor good sacraments, which are of their administering. As St. Cyprian, and the Africans, answerable to this nulling of the ordinations, null also the baptisms made by schismatics. And then, on every ordination of anti-bishops against them, there would be a new and indispensable necessity, for all the suffering and oppugned bishops, to insist upon their own powers and claims; lest otherwise the church should neither have bishops nor priests, nor the people any valid sacraments and church administrations.
For the anti bishops receiving no power or authority for these administrations, from their ordainers, their ordination being null, as he says: they can not be empowered, according to the Christian rules of conferring powers, without a new ordination. The conferring of orders, or of ministerial powers, is tied, by our Lord himself, to a particular way, viz. imposition of hands, by empowered persons. In point of orders, as of baptism and the holy eucharist, the effect is affixed to the rite of God's institution. So that such imposition of hands, must give them. And if the former imposition of hands was null, in these competitions they can not have these powers of orders, but by a new one. The receding of the former bishop, or his ceasing to make any further competition, were they already vested with these powers by their own ordination, would give the anti-bishops scope to exercise the same, and to do it alone, without any rent or division. But such recession, is no ordination, nor gives them the episcopal powers, if they had them not before. Yea, I add, nor would any mere allowance, or after-ratification of synods, confer the same, as I conceive, without such new and valid imposition of hands. When men pretend they have already received these spiritual powers, meet allowance admits of their pretences. But I see not, how that alone should confer the powers, if before they wanted them. Nor doth mere saying, I allow thee to be a bishop or a priest, without words not only pre-supposing, but actually and from that time conferring authority upon the persons, seem enough to make them such: which in my apprehension, would make little of the power of orders; and would be a very lax, and cheap salvo, to make good the usurpations, which either now, or at any time heretofore, have been made by sectaries upon the priests office. Besides, when they would empower persons, even synods themselves, or bishops met there, can not confer orders, as I say, more than sacraments, by what way they please, but are bound up, as I apprehend, to divine institutions: and are not left to dispose of ministerial or episcopal powers, by way of sentence, or of legislation, but only by imposition of episcopal hands.
But however it might be, in the opinion of St. Cyprian, and the African church of that age; the Africans carrying the effect of schism farther than others, to the nulling of their baptisms and ordinations: I think this nulling of all ordinations of opposite or anti-bishops, or making them null in themselves, is no catholic doctrine, nor did the church tie itself thereto, or proceed thereby in other ages.
The two most famous schisms, headed by opposite or anti-bishops in the primitive times, and consisting of men, who retained the same faith with the catholic church, were those of the Novatians, and Donatists. But the ordinations of anti-bishops, were allowed to make men bishops and priests, in both these cases.
One, was the schism of the Novatians; which I think, presents us with the first setting up of anti-bishops in the Christian church, against other bishops keeping to the same faith that was professed by themselves, and which is of the more account in this case, because of this St. Cyprian himself speaks, saying on account of Novatian, when he set up as an anti-bishop against Cornelius, that the second bishop is not really secundus, but nullus; not a second, but none at all. This ordination of Novatian against Cornelius, entailed a great division and competition of opposite heads, upon the church. And the Novatians, as may be seen in Sozomen, could produce a succession of bishops, set up to head their party against the catholic bishops, in the great churches. But yet, excepting St. Cyprian and the Africans, whom St. Basil notes to have strained the effects of schism too far, and to have out-shot the mark in these points; though these were anti-bishops, the catholic church did not look upon them, and the priests ordained by them, as mere laymen, or null their ordinations, baptisms, or other church-ministrations. For, on their return to the catholic church, the great Council of Nicea decrees, that such of them as should be found in the clergy, should be in the same order and degree, as they had been ordained to in their own party. And, that having received imposition of hands, or being ordained before: so, according to their degree, they should remain in the rank of the clergy. So that in any city, or town, if there were none else in orders, they still should be the bishops and priests thereof. But if at the time of their reconciliation, there should be a catholic bishop, or priest, living there, that then the catholic should have preference, and the Novatian should be content with the title of a bishop, (without the administration); or with a presbyter, or chorepiscopus's place, that there may not be two bishops in a city at once. Yea, and before such return or reconciliation to the church, in great straightness or want of opportunities for worship otherwise, the catholics resorted to their churches, to partake of ministerial offices from them, as Sozomen reports they did in the Arian persecution under Constantius.
The other, was the schism of the Donatists, begun by men professing the same faith, by the setting up of majorinus as and opposite or anti-bishop against caecilian, the true and canonical bishop of Carthage. This schism set Africa in a flame, and quickly multiplied into a number of anti-bishops and their abettors, to confront the regular. Bishops of the African churches. The case of these anti-bishops, came about the year of Christ 314, to be determined by the synod under Melchiades at Rome. And there, to heal the division, melchiades and the synod, as St. Austin relates, declared their readiness to send communicatory letters to them; even to those, that appeared to be of Majorinus's ordination. And decreed, that wheresoever, by reason of the breach, there were two bishops, he should be confirmed, who was first ordained; and that for the other, another church or bishopric should be provided. Which St. Austin applauds, as an innocent, and perfect, a provident, and pacific judgment. And afterwards, in the Council of Carthage under Aurelius, about the year of Christ, 419. Whereas St. Austin himself was present, concerning the reception of the Donatists into the church, it is decreed, that the Donatist clergy, on their return to the church, shall be received in their proper honours, or degrees of orders; like as it is manifest, they have been received in Africa, in times foregoing. And when any people, or diocese, are converted from donatism, if, at the time of their conversion, they have Donatist bishops, who come over with them, without controversy, say they in another canon, they may have them still.
Besides these famous instances of opposite or anti-bishops, the same may likewise appear of others.
Flavianus, from a presbyter of that church, was set up as an anti-bishop, and ordained at Antioch against Paulinus, who had for a good while lived a bishop of the orthodox in that church, and by agreement with his competitor Meletius, sworn to by Flavianus himself, was to hold it alone without any new opposition, after Meletius's death. This Paulinus moreover, after the setting up of Flavianus against him, was owned for the bishop of Antioch, not only by the bishops of Egypt, of Arabia, and Cyprus; but also by the bishop of Rome and the occidentals, who directed their synodical epistles to him, and none to Flavianus, as is related by Socrates, and Sozomen. But yet, Flavianus's ordination was not judged null, the great Chrysostom himself having his priest's orders from him, as may be learned from Palladius; and, whilst he was one of his presbyters, preaching such excellent homilies, as we have of his to the people of Antioch. And without any pretence of nullity in his ordination, on account the church was filled by Paulinus at the time thereof; after the death of Paulinus, and of his successor Evagrius, without any new ordination, he was admitted to communion, both by the bishops of Alexandria and Rome, who had rejected him as a schismatical bishop, whilst Paulinus and Evagrius were alive.
In the succession of bishops in the church of Rome, there have been numerous ordinations of opposite or anti-bishops, which have made no fewer, than 27 schisms. And some of them, of long continuance, that, by the ordination of Clemens VII as an anti-bishop against Urban VI being reckoned to have lasted fifty years. But neither these anti-bishops, nor those ordained by them, have been thought to want the powers of orders, nor to make any breach of the continued series and succession, of apostolical ordination, in that church, nor is it judged to do so, by our selves; we concluding our own to be a right and uninterrupted succession of orders, and not disowning it, in good part at least, to be derived from them.
In the Arian persecution, of Athanasius and the orthodox faith, numerous were the unjust deprivations of orthodox bishops; as of Athanasius at Alexandria, Paulus at Constantinople, Liberius at Rome, Asclepas at Gaza, Lucius at Adrianople, &c. These bishops, being deposed for their adherence to the truth, there was a nullity in their deprivations, as I showed before; and notwithstanding those deprivations, they still filled those churches, and were the true bishops thereof; and accordingly were communicated with and received as such, by the western synods. And that, because the depositions were not really for other faults, which were falsely fixed upon their persons; but for their holding the Nicene faith, as the sufferers pleaded, and upon examination, the synods, and the Emperor Constans, found. But on their depositions, anti-bishops were set up against them, and obtruded on their several churches, as Gregory, and afterwards George were, against Athanasius at Alexandria; and Eusebius of Nicomedia, and after him Macedonius, were against Paulus at Constantinople; and Felix, against Liberius at Rome; and quintianus, against Asclepas at Gaza; not to mention others, in other places. And yet these anti-bishops, being for the most part heretical, as well as schismatical bishops, were not held to want the powers of others, nor, if any of them left their heresies, and returned to the faith of the church, was there any new ordination required of them, or of those who had been ordained by them!
Besides all this, instead of anti-bishops being absolutely null, and in reality no bishops; to heal, and compose the differences, of a miserably harassed and divided church, on such competitions it has been sometimes agreed, that, whichsoever of them were the right, on the death of either, the survivor should be owned, and the church should have no other bishop; and so all the ordinations, and episcopal acts therein, should pass through his hands, and stand on his authority, whilst he lived. Thus it was at Antioch, where the church was divided into two parts, one for the cause of the faith, which was common to them both; but of the bishops, as Socrates says, some owning and adhering to Meletius, and others to Paulinus. For, to heal and close this lamentable schism, it was agreed, which Sozomen calls an admirable counsel, and expedient, that, on the death of either, the survivor should hold the see alone for his life, without being confronted and opposed, by the ordination of any other person. To prevent which, an oath was exacted, of all in that church, who seemed to stand fairest for the episcopate, and of Flavianus among the rest, that on the death of either of the bishops, they would not be ordained bishop of Antioch, whilst the other survived. Which agreement and oath, being afterwards broke by Flavianus, when, on the death of Meletius, he was ordained bishop against Paulinus, cost him so much trouble and difficulty, as he found to get himself received for the bishop thereof, both in Egypt, Arabia, and Cyprus; and at Rome, and among the western bishops, afterwards.
Thus, though men in a schism, did ill in ordaining others: yet were not those ordinations null in themselves; but really conferred the powers of orders, which the persons might exercise if the church pleased. And when once the persons were reconciled, and had satisfied the church for their schism, they have often been allowed to officiate in virtue of that ordination, without being ordained over again, by the greatest councils, and through the early and later ages of the church.
And this shows, that their ordinations were not null in themselves. For if such persons, had never received any spiritual powers in their ordinations, they had none to exercise. And had the church been of this persuasion, it would never have admitted them to exercise those powers, which it believed were never conferred on them.
But, though these men, even after they had fallen into a schism, or others who were ordained therein, had orders: yet was it in the power of the church, to deny them the ministerial exercise of their orders. Men must have the communion of the church as well as orders, before they can exercise their orders, and minister to the faithful in any religious assemblies. And though their schism, doth not utterly divest, or exclude them from the powers of orders: yet it doth from the communion of the church, without which the faithful, (who are not to seek, but to shun the ministrations of schismatics, and excommunicate persons) must not partake with them in any exercise of orders. And to this communion, after once they have justly lost, and fallen from it, they are to be restored again in degree more or less, and to be received to the communion, either only of lay-members, or else of clergy, and to officiate according to their former honors, as the church pleaseth.
And as to this admission and allowance, to exercise their orders in its communion, the church has acted variously, according as it saw cause. When ordinations have been made against the rules of unity, though the offenders thereby received orders; yet, in care of these rules, and to assert and keep up discipline, it has at some times denied, as well as at other times granted its communion to them, for their exercise of the same, where it judged that rigor expedient, on their submission, it, would receive them, to communicate as laymen. But, they should not be allowed the privileges, nor permitted to act and officiate, as bishops and priests, in her communion; nor should other churches receive them, and join with them as such, till moreover satisfaction had been first given to those rules of unity in ordinations, which had been broken in theirs.
And this it has done, not only in case of this great rule, of not ordaining a bishop into a full church: but, also in case of other rules, which are of less account, than it is. Thus, of ordination into a church already vacant, if it is made without the metropolitan's consent, the Council of Nicea, and afterwards the Council of Antioch, decree, that the church shall not receive such an one for a bishop. And of ordinations at large, without declaring the appropriate church or place, wherein the person ordained is to officiate; the Council of Chalcedon decrees, that they shall be invalid. Not to mention or insist also, on the Council of Nicea's rejecting of the anti-bishops ordained by the schismatic Meletius, till they were confirmed by a more holy imposition of hands, as their synodical epistle says; because there was an incapacity more than ordinary for giving orders, not only to anti-bishops, but to any others, in his case; which, because it may be of use in this argument, I shall give an account of.
Meletius, was bishop of Lycus in Egypt, under the see of Alexandria; and, as epiphanius relates, was next in dignity and power to Peter the bishop of Alexandria himself, and he, with his adherents, broke off from the unity of the church, and set up a schism, separating from Peter the bishop of Alexandria, and assembling for prayers, and other divine offices by themselves; and ordaining opposite bishops, priests, and deacons, for the erection of opposite churches, in several places, as Eleutheropolis, Gaza, and Aelia, as Epiphanius says. And these separate erections of churches, and opposite ordinations, he made, after he had been justly deposed by Peter in a synod, (as we are assured by Athanasius, who had the best opportunities to understand the truth of these matters, and the most cause to inquire into them, and also by Socrates afterwards.) And that too, among other crimes, for his having fallen in the persecution, to deny the faith, and to sacrifice to idols. Which crimes, when any bishop or clergy, were once convicted of, by the great rule of church-discipline, they were never afterwards to exercise any clerical powers, or to officiate as bishops and clergy; but, upon their reconciliation, were to be received only to lay-communion.
After such falls, says St. Cyprian, it is in vain for any to seek to usurp the episcopacy; since it is manifest such men can neither preside in the church of Christ, nor ought to offer sacrifice to God. Chiefly, since it has been decreed by Cornelius, and by us, and by all the bishops of the whole world, concerning them, that after such offence, they may be admitted to penance, and the peace of the church, but must stand removed from the honour of the priesthood and clerical orders. Accordingly, Basilides the bishop, after he had denied and cursed Christ, was very thankful, as he says, and looked upon it as a great favour to him, that he could be received to communicate as a layman. And likewise Trophimus the bishop, when he had sacrificed to idols, was admitted, as he tells Antotianus, only to communicate as a layman, not to usurp the priests' office any more, as some malicious persons had informed him, which made Antonianus complain of the same to Cyprian, as a violation of this known rule of discipline. And in virtue of this, being the known and received rule of the church, the Donatists sought to invalidate and overthrow the ordination of caecilian, against whom they had set up their anti-bishop majorinus at Carthage: pretending, that Caecilian's ordainers, particularly Felix of Aptunga, had been traditors in the preceding persecution, or had fallen from Christ, and delivered up their bibles to be burnt by their persecutors. Which charge, had it been true, as it was false; would have been received and owned for a just exception, on both sides. And the catholics would have rejected Caecilian, till he could make out some better ordination; as well as the Council of Nicea did these Egyptian anti-bishops, that had no better ordainer than Meletius, who stood guilty of the like offence. But it was rejected in caecilian's case, as being a malicious forgery, the Donatists thereby impudently laying their own crimes on others, hoping that would hinder men from inquiring after the same in themselves.
Indeed, as epiphanius relates this matter, Meletius made this schism, and ordained these anti-bishops, not after he had sacrificed to idols, and had been synodically condemned by Peter for the same; but whilst he, as well as Peter, was a stout confessor for the faith against idols, and in his zeal for the discipline of the church, against Peter's easiness in admitting the lapsers, who sought to them, whilst they were together in prison, for the peace of the church. But Athanasius, who was nearer to this transaction, and who, after some others, was chosen to succeed Peter in the same church, is more like to understand the truth of this affair, than Epiphanius was. Whom Baronius, and Petavius look upon as mislead into this account, by some false acts or histories of the Meletians, who dealt injuriously with Peter and the catholics in Egypt, like as the Donatists did with caecilian and those catholics in Africa; on whom they laboured to fix the crime of being traditors, whereof the catholics were free, but they themselves were notoriously guilty.
Thus, though their orders were valid in themselves, without which they could have been received at no time; yet have they not always availed to claim and obtain the churches communion, without which the persons could not be received by the faithful to exercise the same. And this has been, when the church saw fit and expedient, to insist upon the rules of unity in ordinations, and more vigorously to assert ecclesiastical law and discipline.
And this, it might assert, or relax, as it saw cause. Ecclesiastical law and discipline, is not a rule of indispensable obligation to the church; but such as it may, and oft-times has receded from, on great reason and necessity. What rules the church makes, the church may alter and go off from in particular cases, as need shall require, and as may best serve those ends for which it made them.
Accordingly, rules of discipline, have not been one and the same in all ages. For, to omit others, the ancient councils asserted the free election of bishops, (nominated here by the prince,) to the bishops of the province: and for bid the translation of bishops, from poorer to richer sees: and the attendance of bishops, about courts of princes, the Council of Antioch, confirmed afterwards at Chalcedon, and in Trullo, forbidding them to go to the emperor, without the approbation and letters of the metropolitan. And excluded both bishops and clergy, from intermealing, and incumbring themselves, with secular trusts and administrations. All which are otherwise in these latter ages.
And such rules of discipline, as have been observed more strictly, have not had one equal and uniform tenor of observation; but have been sometimes remitted, and sometimes exacted and stood upon, as the church was driven thereto by prudential reason. Thus it has been with the canons or rules of discipline, about ordinations. Which, as the church has sometimes insisted on, as I noted, to vacate the ordinations, which any bishops made against them; I mean, to deny the persons its communion, without which, whatever powers of orders they had received, they could not be received in any assemblies of the faithful, to exercise the same: so were they at other times relaxed and over-ruled by the necessities of the church, and the persons, on their reconciliation, admitted to officiate in virtue of such orders, as I think may abundantly appear by the fore-cited instances. And this very reason is given for it, by the African fathers in the synod of Carthage, when they admit of the ordinations of the Donatists, which the transmarine or Italian synod had rejected: telling Pope Anastasius, that this reception of them to the same orders, was for the great necessity of Africa,--for a better provision for catholic unity, and for the benefit and peace of the church.
These instances and proofs, I think may be sufficient to show, that anti-bishops, and others of their ordination, have orders; though, being in a schism, the faithful ought not to join with them in their use thereof. Their schism, makes them sinners in receiving, and in using their orders, and shuts out others from communicating therewith. But it doth not utterly destroy, and null their orders; nor must it be said, I conceive, that by such sinful ordination they receive nothing or, that whatever they had formerly received, they lose by falling into schism, so as that thenceforward they have no orders, nor are bishops or priests at all.
The Donatists indeed, as St. Austin reports, asserted this, and taught, that by breaking off from the church, though men did not lose the baptism which they had received before, yet they lost their orders, or the authority and power of baptizing. And on pretence thereof, they re-baptized those, who, since the breach, had been baptized by any of the catholic clergy,
As to which, he owns, that whilst they continue in their schism, they sin in exercising their orders. They do not do right, saith he, in giving baptism to others, whilst they themselves are broken off from the church.--And it is to their own destruction, so long as they have not the charity of union.--The having baptism themselves, and conferring it on others, are both pernicious, whilst they continue out of the bond of peace.
But, though they ought not to use these powers, till they have amended their schism: yet, as he says, they have them if they will use them, and the acts of orders are not nullities, which are done by them. There is no question now to be made, saith he, and it has been a thing discussed, considered, and established through the whole world, that they, who are broken off from the unity of the church, do for all that retain, both their baptism, and their orders or power of baptizing. --when correcting the error of their schism, they are received to the unity and peace of the church; if it seem needful, or expedient to have them bear their former offices, their prelates are not to be ordained again, but as their former baptism, so their former ordination remains entire in them, for their fault lay in their schism, which is corrected by their being settled anew in the peace of unity: not in the holy institutions, either of baptism or orders, which wheresoever they are really, are of validity, --yea, and when on such reception to the communion of the church, it seems expedient not to admit them, to the administration of their former orders; yet even there, adds he, is not the power of orders withdrawn from them, but remains still lodged in them. Which also may appear from hence, because, on their reconciliation, they are not made to stand among the penitents, as other offenders among the people are, and there to receive penance, and absolution, by imposition of hands: which is omitted towards them, not because it would be an injury to their persons, (schism being as criminal, if not more criminal in them, than it is in others;) but because it would be an injury to their orders, which orders therefore must be still inherent in them at that time to give them that exemption: for no person in holy orders, as bishops, priests and deacons, was liable, or ever made to do penance, by the ancient rules and discipline of the church.
And before them, St. Cyprian and the Africans of his age, together with Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocea, carried the effect of schism so far, as quite to set aside all ministerial acts of schismatics. And on that account, they equally nulled, both their ordinations, and their baptisms. The powers of baptizing, and ordaining, and of doing other ministerial acts, are powers of the Holy Ghost. And by schism, in their account, the schismatics fell from the grace of the Holy Ghost; and, having lost it themselves, were no longer empowered to confer it on others, either in baptism, or ordination, being thence forward, as to these powers, as mere, laymen, as St. Basil recites their opinion.
But this, St. Basil thinks was a straining things too far; and others of Asia, as he says, were altogether of another opinion: so, in his canonical epistle, which was received into the code of the universal church by the sixth council in Trullo, he admits those ministerial acts and baptisms, when done by bishops, or by others of their ordination, in a schism.
Yea, and even Cyprian and those Africans, who were for nulling these acts and baptisms of schismatics, seem to have been for this only in regard to their own communion, or by denying communion to them in their own churches, in way of asserting discipline and canons; but not to have thought them naturally, and essentially null in themselves. And this, I think, is plain from hence. Because, though, in care to keep up discipline, they nulled these acts as to their own communion, in the case of any of their own members: yet they declare, that if any other churches admit them, they will not break communion with them, on account thereof. We judge none, nor will exclude any from our communion, who shall be of another opinion, says St. Cyprian at the head of the Council of Carthage, when they made this determination. And again, in another council, when they writ to Stephen of Rome to concur with them, in rejecting, not only the baptism, but the ordination of men in heresy or schism, and in receiving them, when they returned to the church, only to lay-communion: they declare, that if any of their brethren, who have imbibed another opinion, are still for sticking to their former sentiments, they are not forcing any, nor for breaking communion with those, who are for preserving that bond of concord and peace, which ought to be upheld in the college of bishops. So that if any persons of such baptism, or ordination, came to them with communicatory letters from any other bishops; they would admit them to all acts, whether of lay, or clerical communion, in Carthage and Africa, which they had been admitted to at home, the denial whereof, as I showed before, had been to break communion with other churches, which they disclaim. And if they would admit them to communicate thus with them in their churches, they could not think, either their baptisms or ordinations, null in themselves. For the communion professed in the creed, is a communion of saints, or Christians, who are listed or made Christians, by baptism; and clergymen, by ordination: and there is no admission of un-baptized persons, to those acts which are proper to the faithful; or of un-ordained persons, to those privileges and functions which are peculiar to the clergy, in the church of Christ.
But against all this it may be objected, that there it to be but one bishop at once in a church, as St. Cyprian alleges, and as the great Council of Nicea afterwards provides: and that the bishop in the church, is the principle of unity. And that the admission of the ordination of anti-bishops, will be against the nature of the spiritual monarchy, the nature of monarchy not admitting of two at once. And, as the throne can hold but one, so the electors, where the monarchy goes by election, can choose but one: who being once chosen, they can elect no more, nor can confer the same powers on any other, till the throne becomes vacant again.
But as to the bishops being the principle of unity, that respects the people's duty, of holding communion with him; his being the principle of unity to the church, binding the church to depend on him, and incorporate under him, and to communicate with him. And as to this, the members, who are already subject to a rightful bishop, are not to admit of a second bishop. That is, if such an one is set up, they are not to unite themselves to him, and turn over to his communion, as I think may sufficiently appear, from what I have above discoursed on that point; but are to stand off from him, as from one that makes a schism. And thus every church as a spiritual monarchy, is not to be possessed by two at once, since all must adhere to one: and though the second, who is set up in opposition, be a bishop, yet he is not their bishop, nor may any of them break off from their rightful head, to join in his communion.
But though the anti-bishop in any church, can not oblige or hold all the members thereof to himself, as the principle of unity; yet may he have all, that is of the essence of episcopacy. For, to be an head of union in the church, is not of the essence of a bishop. It may be separate from the episcopal powers; as it is, in all bishops falling into heresy, or schism. For they are no longer heads of union, since none are bound to follow them, but all are to break communion with them. But yet they are bishops still, and do not thereby fall from the powers of ordination, nor, on their re-union to the church, need to be ordained again.
It is true, one main use of episcopacy, is to be a means of unity. But yet, it is not so for this use, as to be null, or cease, when it misses, or fails thereof. Even as baptism, or the eucharist, are for unity: we being all baptized into one body; and being one body, as partaking all of one bread, as the apostle says. But yet, they do not always cease, or fail of their effects, when administered in breach thereof: and baptism, as was held by the ancient church, and as we all hold now, is still valid, though performed by schismatics.
When they miss of this, they have other uses. As the sacraments, besides keeping unity among the members, enter and ratify the covenant of grace. And episcopacy, besides the use, of keeping the church one and unbroken is for administration of the word, of prayers, and sacraments, and for ordaining others to do the same. And though all these ought to be exercised in the unity of the church, and it is a great sin when it is otherwise: yet such sinful exercises, are no nullities, as if the persons had no powers, or as if the administrations had no effect at all.
In the state monarchy, I grant, that the regal powers, and this use of their being a principle of state-unity, are more closely and constantly connected. And that, as he, who has the regal powers, is the principle of state-union: so he, who is no such principle, and to whom the people are not bound to unite, has truly no regal authority or powers. And in elective kingdoms, if, whilst the throne is full, the electors, (whose power of choosing is only in vacancies,) pretend to choose another; they really confer no regal power, nor make a king; but an usurper. This is, because secular powers, are more limited to territories and precincts; and because no king, can be a king at large, but must only be a king, of such or such a place, or countries.
But in the spiritual monarchy it is otherwise. For the collation, and reception of the episcopal powers, is not with precise limitation to such a particular place or diocese; but indefinite, or with respect to the church at large. Or expressed, as it is in our form of ordination, by receiving of the Holy Ghost for the office of a bishop, for the church of God. Which makes any person, not a mere local, but a catholic bishop; or one vested with episcopal powers, and under no want of inherent authority to exercise episcopal acts, (if, as a conscientious lover of unity, he be not otherwise restrained by rules of maintaining unity and order,) in any part of the world. The first bishops, being chosen from among the first converts, were first vested with powers; and then, by gathering more proselytes, were to get subjects, and enlarge territories, being ordained bishops of those, who should afterwards believe, as St. Clement says. And the holy apostles, who stood vested with all the episcopal powers, were not tied to any place; but, by Christ's commission, were left equally, and indefinitely, to the whole church. And till the great Council of Chalcedon, which was held about the year of Christ 451 were the periodeutai or circuitors; so called, as zonoras observes, because they were to go about hither and thither, to keep the faithful in their duty, not having any fixed place or chair of their own. At the Synod of Laodicea, about the year of Christ 36. It is left to these periodeutas, to supply the want of fixed bishops, in those places and countries, that were not thought considerable enough to have a bishop fixed among them. And afterwards, at the time of the Council of Chalcedon, mention is again made of them. As of one balentius, whom, being a scandalous liver, ibas is accused in the council, to have ordained presbyter and periodeutes. And of one Alexander, who, in the same council, is styled the most reverend presbyter, and periodeutes.
This great Council of Chalcedon, indeed, forbids any presbyter, or deacon, to be ordained absolutely, or at large, i.e. without having, and declaring the appropriate place, or seat, wherein he is to officiate; and vacates the ordinations, which shall be made otherwise. And the same has been done since by the canons of other councils, forbidding any to be ordained sine titulo, without a title, to some certain place, or benefice.
But these local limitations, or appropriations of place in giving orders, come not in, for the necessity and essence of ordination. And therefore some are excepted therein, and allowed still to be ordained without them; whose ordinations are notwithstanding as valid, as theirs who are ordained with them. Thus, fellows, and chaplains of colleges; and masters of arts, who have been able to live five years of themselves in the universities, &c. Are excepted by our own canon: and they, who have patrimony, and provision of maintenance of their own other ways, are excepted by the canon of the Council of Lateran. And if such limitation of place, were of the essence of ordination; they could be but once placed, as they are once ordained, and not remove from place to place without a new ordination. But they were brought in, for a prudent provision, to keep the clergy from being burthensome; or to prevent more entering into orders, than are requisite for the churches needs, or can live upon its maintenance, as appears by the canons themselves.
Moreover, bishops, when for this purpose, and for maintenance of unity and order, they are tied up to places in their administrations; besides the local relation, of bishops of such a place, who are to have a more special regard for their own proper division: they stand also, as I have already showed, under another relation, of catholic bishops, or of bishops of the church at large, who, as there is need of it, and as occasion is offered, are to have a general inspection and regard too for all the rest. The collection of all churches, as St. Cyprian says, is but one episcopate; and those many people, who are fed, and inspected by so many pastors, make all but one flock. Whereof particular dividends are so entrusted to every single bishop, as to make them stand obliged and accountable, not only for their own rata pars, that is their proper share or division; but, as partners in a bond, each of them pro solide, i.e. for the whole sum.
These local limitations, and appropriations of precincts, to have every bishop the bishop of some place, and to have but one bishop at a time in a city or place, are great and necessary rules, it is true, of order and unity. And all the pastoral powers, are most highly served by having them to direct their exercise; and would be mightily disturbed, and hindered of their end, by the want thereof: so that they are conscientiously, and carefully to be observed, and maintained in the church.
But their necessity, is for order and unity, not for the being of episcopacy. And when there are two bishops, heading separate churches at once in a place; that duplicity, must only prove one to be a schismatic; but doth not prove him, as I think may sufficiently appear from what has been here discoursed, to be no bishop. Nay, while this separation of churches could be without the guilt of schism, as it was in the first standing off of the Jews from the gentile converts, and as the blessed apostles themselves allowed it should be for a time, till the Jews could be brought to see the lawfulness of communicating with gentiles, which was contrary to all their former received opinions: I say, whilst such separation was to be tolerated without imputation of schism, to suit the necessity of the church during their prejudices, it is very likely there were two bishops set up in the same place by the holy apostles themselves. Thus, in the city of Rome, it is probable, that at first there were at once two churches, one of Jews, and the other of gentiles, gathered there by the two great apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul. Epiphanius says of both these apostles, that at Rome, they were both the first apostles, and the first bishops. And sets down the bishops in the first succession of that church, double. Of the Roman bishops, this, says he, is the succession, Peter and Paul, Linus and Cletus, Clemens, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystus, and so on. And this is thought to be the best reconciliation of those various accounts, of the first successors to the holy apostles, in that church. And the like may reasonably be thought of other churches, where Jews and gentiles lived intermixed; Epiphanius noting it as a thing extraordinary and unusual in the church of Alexandria, (which was a place much inhabited and resorted to by the Jews, and where the first church was planted by St. Mark, who was made bishop thereof by St. Peter the apostle of the Jews,) that it had never at any time had two bishops in the same city at once, like other cities. So that, what the having of two bishops in the same city at once, strikes at, is the duty of church-unity. But where it could be tolerated without imputation of schism, and was not destructive of the required unity, (as it was not in those first beginnings of the church, when God was pleased for a time to tolerate the former separation between Jews and gentiles, till the Jews had out-grown their prejudices against communion with gentiles,) it was not destructive of, or inconsistent with the being of episcopacy.
Thus, is not the opposite or anti-bishops ordination, but only his communion excluded, by having but one bishop in a church at a time, and by the rightful bishops being the principle of church-union. Because another is their rightful bishop, he can not be the bishop of that place or diocese, since they can not have two bishops at once. And because that other is their principle of union, they are not to communicate with him, as I have shown at large in the preceding chapters. But though he is not their bishop, nor is to have the communion of the faithful by reason of his schism; yet he may be a bishop, and have the powers of orders, by imposition of episcopal hands in his own ordination. So that among such anti-bishops and their adherents, we are to lament the loss of unity and church communion: but not of all orders and baptisms, as if, by such schism, they were rendered utterly uncapable, either to baptize or ordain, and so were like to have neither priesthood nor Christianity left among them.