Project Canterbury






A Paper read before the Church Congress,
Louisville, October,



Rector of Trinity Church, New-Haven.



2 and 3 Bible House.


The Historic Episcopate and Apostolic

IT is extremely difficult for a modern man to enter into and reproduce the life of the early church. The aspirations of the primitive Christians, their discipline and bond of union, their conception of Christianity, their social surroundings, their civic condition, the training of their leaders, present only points of contrast with the church life of the present time. Measured by human comprehension, the church now is in its old age. Its unity has been broken; it is marred and wounded by bitter conflict. It carries the memories of schisms and heresies, of corruptions and discords, of social complications, of mistakes and false alliances; and he who examines it in its constitution, its powers, its organized life must, of necessity, be critical. For if he be not critical, he must accept arbitrarily, one of many conflicting sects or parties, or else he must reject all. The processes by which men now decide what their ecclesiastical allegiance shall be, were almost unknown to the early church. It was full of the vigor and enthusiasm of glorious youth. It had no past; it was a new and wonderful creation. Pascal was right when he said that the ancient church was not the primitive; for the primitive church was the church in its youth. Faith was then a fire of inspiration. Those early Christians believed that they were embosomed within a new, divine order, that the [5/6] church was quickened by the Spirit of God, and was overshadowed by the glorified Lord. They did not ask whether this or the other thing were of divine appointment. The distinction between divine and human appointment, in the things of Christ, belonged to a later day. These reflections must not be overlooked in the consideration of the historic episcopate. But it will not be expected that, in the brief space allotted to the writers of papers for the Church Congress, I shall attempt to enter into any description of the origin of the episcopate. In fact we should be carried over into a region of inquiry quite apart from the subject in hand. The existence and presence of the episcopate in the primitive Christian Church must be assumed. The fact must be taken for granted; especially as from the earliest historic documents and monuments in our possession, we find men, officers in the church, exercising authority not only over the people, but over other officers known by the name of presbyters and deacons. In fact, the office existed before its powers and prerogatives were defined. It is by no means certain what these powers were originally, but before long, very soon, apparently, after the last of the apostles had been laid to rest, we find bishops wielding a sort of monarchical authority quite as pronounced as that conceded to the apostles themselves. I will not undertake to assert that all churches were, at the first, under this episcopal rule. It may be that in some of them, as Bishop Pearson suggests, there were presbyters without bishops, and in others there were bishops without presbyters. In the darkness of that day of life--I mean darkness in the sources of our information--there was undoubtedly [6/7] much that fell short of fixed order. And let it be remembered too, that the origin of the order of presbyters is involved in this general obscurity. What were the powers and prerogatives of the first presbyters? Were they preachers of the gospel? Were they stewards of the mysteries of Christ? Or were they charged only with certain official authority in the way of oversight? Was the episcopate a development out of the presbyterate, or were "bishops first and presbyters afterwards"? These are questions not easily answered. [* See Hatch, Bampton Lectures, Lecture iii.; also Bingham, Book II. Chap. xix., Section 3. A note of extraordinary fairness and of the largest learning may be found in Gieseler's Ch. History, appended to § 30. Gieseler quotes, as every body has quoted, Jerome and Augustine in support of the doctrine that the mos ecclesiae rather than the divine word is the real authority for the institution of the episcopate, and that originally there was no difference between bishops and presbyters. I think however that there is something very amusing in the way in which these greatest of the Latin fathers are spoken of, when the episcopate is under dispute. At other times they are great, then they become nobodies! The Lord Chancellor King incurred the mild censures of our House of Bishops, in their schedule of studies for candidates for orders, but the fourth chapter of his "Inquiry " etc., is not unprofitable reading. See besides, Rothe, Anfange der Christ. Kirche, Wittenburg, 1837, p. 137. Baur, Ursprung des Episkopats, in answer to Rothe, Tubingen 1838. Ritschl, Altkathol, Kirche, p. 409, et seq. Litton on the Church of Christ. Harnack's Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte. The Christian Ministry by J. B. Lightfoot, D. D.]

The churches did not, apparently, in the matter of government and discipline, guide or place themselves under one admitted rule. How could they? There is little trace of any scheme or plan for their organized life. They borrowed or adopted some of their usages from the synagogue. The synagogue was transformed into a church in its worship and discipline. Here in a large and powerful congregation one might have seen a compacted, more disciplined body; [7/8] and there, in a feebler community, less of order and social form.

I say then that in view of the confessed obscurity of the origin of the historic episcopate, we must, for our purpose in this discussion, be allowed to assume the fact, as a very important institution of the Christian church, and as carrying within itself the norm or type by which the ministry was known and to be known throughout the whole of Christendom.

After the middle of the second century, the church emerges from obscurity, organized with its bishops, presbyters and deacons, with sacraments and worship, with manifold agencies, with bright energies, and yet with stormy signs and sinister portents. Nothing, however, as the church rises to full view, was fixed or stationary. The local congregations under the pressure of powerful motives had sought fellowship with each other. The conception of a Catholic Church followed in the wake of an ever extending sympathy and communion, but as yet even the canon of the New Testament was not settled as a working force, nor were the sacraments or the ministry formulated into theory or doctrine. We notice drift, movement, life, some of the richest expressions of which can be found in the earliest liturgical remains. Gnosticism with its wild phantasies threatened the existence of the church, and in the tumult and stir of a great danger, a rule of faith and practice was found, not in the abstract teachings of the New Testament, but in the traditions and usages of the apostolic churches. What these churches had always held, that became the current standard of Christendom. These churches had their bishops, their succession of bishops; and so [8/9] episcopal rule was received, apparently universally, as the true norm and type of the constitution of the Christian ministry. The episcopate was then beyond all question, by the time of Irenaeus, the accepted institution of the Catholic Church. There is no evidence, I repeat, that it started everywhere in a completed form, or that the church was fully organized from the first. It began its mysterious march, with great vigor and energy indeed, but without fixed regulations to control the churches in all particulars or to direct the formation of new ones.

It is very clear that a certain dominant and dominating drift or tendency existed which resulted in what may be called monarchical episcopacy after the middle of the second century, and this drift, which embraced many things besides the ministry, finds its expression in the theories and ideas of Cyprian in the middle of the third century.

It may be urged that this is a long leap, in the history of the early church, that from Irenaeus to Cyprian, say fifty years, new forces and factors, new influences, social and public, different from those of the earliest life of Christendom, were at work, by which the church underwent a transformation more or less corrupting and dangerous. But I submit that deeper study of the facts will not warrant any such inference. It will be seen that the church moved along certain lines of development, and that the earlier explains the later theories, especially in the matter of the ministry and of the doctrine of the sacraments. There was no break, but there was the development which is inseparable from movement. All living organizations move, and in movement there is change, and change comes often without revolution.

[10] Now there are three great names associated with modern debate upon the episcopate. These three are Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Cyprian; also Tertullian incidentally. Ignatius falls out of the line of teachers, though his testimony to the existence of the episcopal office in the age immediately after the apostolic, remains, as far as it goes, unshaken. He falls out, I say, because his absurd exaggerations of the constitution of the ministry when he compares the bishop to our Lord, and presbyters to the apostles, never took any hold upon the church, and was entirely passed over by the fathers both of the East and of the West, who laid, especially the creators of the opinions of the West, the utmost stress upon the fact that bishops were successors of the apostles, and for what is meant by apostolical succession we must look to the church of the West, rather than to that of the East. The East gave itself with marvellous ability and dialectical subtilty to the study of Christian doctrine; and to the East we are indebted for the exposition of the creed of Christendom. The West developed the idea of the church, the ministry, the sacraments, devoted its thought to government, discipline, and to the social law of Christianity. All our church battles have been fought over institutions and dogmas of the Church of the West. The genius of Latin Christianity has overshadowed the world of two continents. I say again then that Irenaeus, the first of the great ecclesiastics, and Cyprian, who died two generations later, differ as the slender stalk differs from the trunk, or as a blossom from its flower. We find in Irenaeus strong recognition of the historical, traditional episcopate and of the apostolic succession. To him the [10/11] bishops were the successors of the apostles, and certainly the phrase has been unnecessarily offensive to many Protestants, because they have not considered that as apostles were chiefest of church governors and officers, so bishops succeeded them in their position and function. We may say always with Hooker, that "in some things every presbyter, in some things only bishops, in some things neither the one nor the other are the apostles' successors." (Bk. 7, ch. IV.) [* It should be noted, however, that of the idea of "orders" in the mediaeval and modern sense, there is no track, in the primitive church. Bingham, Book II., Chap. i, Sec. 1, is worth reading upon this Point.]

Now, we find in Cyprian this institution formulated and accepted as the prevailing idea of the Catholic Church, and the circumstances of the church favored this development. It was threatened simply with disaster. The heretics of the second century were acute, zealous, alert; they brought in another gospel, and their success would have destroyed the gospel of Christ. The church opposed them with two powerful weapons, and they were taken from the armory of history. One was the faith and the other the usage of the apostolical churches. Over against wild vagaries of thought, and the prolific fancies of Asia Minor, the Catholic apologists opposed the traditional faith of the apostolical churches, and over against their self-constituted hierophants they stood upon the succession of bishops. Not the canon of the New Testament, but the preserved continuous traditions of these churches was then the rule of faith. [* Great stress is laid upon this fact by Dr. Adolf Harnack, in his Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte. Bd. I. Zweites Buch, S. 243-256.] The New Testament was studied indeed in parts; but when we [11/12] come to consider how Cyprian formulated the constitution of the Christian ministry we find that the model or type uppermost in his mind was the Old Testament priesthood. In the high priest he finds the forerunner of the bishop; in the priest the forerunner of the presbyter; in the Levite the forerunner of the deacon. This has been the most disastrous misapplication of the Old Testament to the New ever made; a far-reaching disaster it has proved. But he did not limit himself to this idea. He pushed the authority and power of the bishop to its last extreme. While he contended that the bishops succeeded the apostles vicaria ordinatione, he rose to the audacity of declaring that the church is in the bishop, "Ecclesia in Episcopo," although in his treatment of presbyters he displays courtesy and consideration. I must content myself with the observation that while he insisted upon the solidarity of the episcopal order, he finds the principle or pivot of catholic unity in the communion of the churches, through their bishops, with the church which he names "ecclesia principalis," and of which he says "unitas sacerdotalis exorta est." (Cyp. Ep. 59, p. 144, Edit. Tauchnitz.) The independence of each bishop would have been fatal to the unity of the Catholic Church which was like, to use his own comparison, the seamless robe of Christ; and he found the principle of unity there. [* It is the fashion of a certain school to quote Cyprian against the defenders of the Papacy. I have nothing to say about this. But one thing is certain, viz.: Cyprian's conception of the church would never have allowed him to tolerate our isolated Protestant Episcopacy. A church not in communion with the churches "orbis terrarum" was ipso facto schismatical. There is not a trace of the Anglican or Protestant Episcopalian in Cyprian. He would be against our Articles, against our Liturgy, against our Constitution, against Lay Participation in the Government of the Church. He believed in things which were repudiated and disowned by our fathers in the sixteenth century; and he would have denounced our doctrine of the communion.]

[13] His was the conception of a Catholic Church rooted and grounded in the episcopate. His monarchical episcopacy would have been fatal, in the long run, to the order of presbyters had it not been for the ceaseless movement of doctrinal ideas and of ecclesiastical regulations. Scholars have failed until lately to understand the power of this movement. The "deposit theory" of a completed doctrinal and ecclesiastical system in the first age vanishes under it. Movement, whether like the clouds in a summer sky, or of an army under the leadership of its invisible head, was the law of its life. While Cyprian did but express the general sentiment of the churches in his theory of the ministry and of the church's unity, there were two other forces at work which did more than neutralize the natural consequences of the rigid monarchism of his idea; they lessened the importance of the episcopal order in a way which no one could have anticipated. It is obvious that Cyprian's doctrine would have crushed out the life of the presbyters had it been allowed an unobstructed development. Even Bingham (Bk. II., xix., 9.) admits, though cautiously and with hesitation, that the power of the presbyters was less in the fourth than it had been in the second century; for the drift was all against them after the Council of Nice. But the order recovered its prestige and influence by the growth and development of the doctrine of the so-called sacrament of the altar upon the one hand, and by the increasing authority of the Bishop of Rome upon the other. True the bishops were in their [13/14] glory during two centuries after Cyprian, but it stands to reason that an order of men having power to offer the sacrifice for the living and the dead must rise in the estimation of the people pari passu with the growth of awe and veneration with which the sacrifice itself was regarded. The priest became invested with a tremendous prerogative, until at last it was believed that he could transform bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. What more could mortal man do? What higher order in the sphere of church life was possible? The priest could do what no man not a priest could do. Hence it came to pass in the course of time that the schoolmen regarded the priesthood as the highest of orders in the church, and the bishops were regarded as priests charged with a dignity and offices, and to this day this is substantially the view of the Roman Church.

Then moreover, on the other side, was the Bishop of Rome, the great patriarch of the West, [* A curious anomaly, showing strange isolation and perhaps ignorance of the drift of church life in Europe, existed in the Celtic Church in Britain, where, according to the Bishop of Durham, in a sermon preached last autumn at New Castle, which was published in the Guardian of Nov. 30, 1887, bishops were under the rule of the Presbyter Abbot of Iona.] absorbing into himself and claiming power which dwarfed the episcopate, until the bishops became his lieutenants or satraps, receiving their inspiration from him, and at last shining only in the light of his exalted prerogatives. The bishop of the Cyprianic type disappeared; the early episcopacy gives place to the later. Carthage again is destroyed by Rome, and Rome remained mistress until the period of the Reformation. It was the same episcopate in descent, but not in its relation [14/15] to the church at large. Such was the line along which it had moved, and the goal it had reached was dependence upon the power and sovereignty of the Pope.

Criticism and the investigation of the claims of ruling powers, institutions and doctrines come after they begin to exhibit signs of decadence. In the fulness of their life and vigor there is, just as in the consciousness of youth, a feeling or sense that they will last forever. But they do not last forever; they too must change and yield to the incoming power of new ideas and the rest. So when the Reformation came, the Papacy was disowned, the unity of the church was broken into fragments, and there was a great wreck. Then men applied themselves to the study of Christian institutions and to the examination of the grounds upon which the claims of the church had rested. They became critical and many have remained critical ever since. The new national spirit, which had come into being before the Reformation, quickened the conception of national churches, and for us, looking at the historic episcopate and apostolic succession, the interest in a national church with a national episcopacy becomes very great and is full of meaning. The English church retained the episcopate, but it became practically isolated. It was no longer in connection with other churches. The idea of a Catholic episcopacy ruling the church was a memory. The episcopacy was national, local--there was no longer a centre of a Catholic unity. England defied the Pope and the Pope anathematized England. A new principle of theological thought came into life, a new standard of judgment was set up by which the church [15/16] and all that pertained to it was to be measured. Under the sway of this new principle that only was regarded as of divine authority, which had the clear and certain warrant of Scripture. It may be affirmed without hesitation that in this new order of thought, the episcopate was not what we in our day call a "burning question," but the supremacy and sovereignty of the Pope was. The episcopacy was continued and made part of the constitution of the Church of England upon the ground, chiefly, that it had always been a feature of the government of the church of Christ. In other words it was looked upon as an ecclesiastical institution; not of England simply, indeed, but of the whole church of Christ.

This is the real position of the church upon this subject, as set forth in the ordinal. [* See note A at the end, p. 28.] It is the position of our own church which, in these matters, does not vary from the Church of England. The peculiarity of our church is that it is a denomination, one of many bodies of Christians, holding and having the episcopate and therefore the historic succession. For ours is not a new-fangled order of bishops; they have come down in the line of a well known descent from the mother church, to say nothing of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. If there be any anomalies in the Protestant Episcopal Church they are owing to its environments, not to its ministerial organization.

Now we are prepared for the consideration of the episcopate as an ecclesiastical institution. By ecclesiastical institutions we mean things held and practised by the church at large and which are the subject [16/17] matter of laws and regulations. The basis upon which these rest is the real or supposed command or precept of the Lord of the whole church; or it may be, the authority of the church, speaking and acting in the name of the Lord. Among these institutes are the sacraments and the ministry. When the critical and defining process began at the Reformation, out of the general crash, the creeds of the church were retained, and the sacraments instead of seven were reduced in number to two, and the ministry ceased all relations with the Pope. Why was this done? How was this result achieved? Simply because the theologians found but two sacraments in the New Testament and they did not find in it any warrant for the claims of the Roman Church and its pontiff. In connection with these institutes, and as part of the common law of Christendom, they found some rites and ceremonies which were not repugnant to God's word, and the hereditary traditional usages went unchallenged. But the real question then was, after the appeal to the Bible had been taken, "Is the institutio ecclesiastica, as such, identical with the institutio divina?" and that question is still under discussion. For my own part I must answer in the negative for reasons now to be stated.

I hold that the church of Christ has a large charter. It has liberty in the Lord. Baptism is a divine institution resting upon the command of Jesus Christ; but He did not command infant baptism. Nevertheless the church practises infant baptism. She practises infant baptism, not upon the express command of Christ, but because He took little children in His arms and blessed them, she says, "nothing doubting that [17/18] He favorably alloweth this charitable work of ours in bringing these infants to His holy baptism." He alloweth! We believe that it has His approval and blessing. It is quite certain that while the church cannot abolish baptism without apostasy, she can refuse to admit infants to this sacrament; though she would, in the act, do violence to our tenderest Christian feeling, and treat with contumely the usage of seventeen hundred years.

The Lord's day is another ecclesiastical institution. There is no divine precept about it. It is entirely within the power of the church to change the day of rest and worship and thanksgiving from the first to any other day of the week. Though in point of fact this is something which, owing to the sacredness of the associations and to the memory of the day of the Resurrection, we may safely predict will never be done.

And this is what I hold in respect of the historic episcopate and apostolic succession. The episcopate is historic--is the normal type of the highest office in the church of Christ--but it is an institutio ecclesiastica and not an institutio divina. The ministry, as such, is a divine institution, but the form of its constitution is subject to the decisions and actions of the church. The church has the right to order the form of its government, subject only to Christ, its adorable Head. The episcopate is the admitted and received fact in this matter. It was universally accepted until the Reformation, but still the question comes back, was it instituted by Christ? Was it set forth by the apostles as the command of the Lord, as part of His revelation? As necessary to the continuance of His church? Is the threefold ministry, in this respect, like baptism [18/19] and the supper of the Lord? Press it as we may; look into the histories, and we will find that it rested upon the admitted usages of the churches. I know some will say this is argument enough for me; the practice of the Catholic Church for seventeen hundred or more years is convincing proof that it is divine. That may be. Nevertheless, if all church institutions are to be received as divine, upon what ground can any man refuse to accept that most imposing of all institutions--I mean the Papacy? In fact, we touch here one of the great underlying differences between the Church of Rome and ourselves. We must examine; we must know the grounds upon which the episcopate has been received and defended. This is alike our right and our duty. We must be able to place our finger upon the record. It will not avail us, in the face of a divided Christendom, to offer some uncertain inferences of a doubtful interpretation of a text or two in the pastoral epistles. No; you are broken upon the wheel of an ecclesiastical absolutism if you accept the notion that church institutions are of necessity divine.

Examination; why need it be so thorough? If of Christ, why should it alone of all the forces and factors of His church be wrapped up in some napkin and buried? Why must we be compelled to suppose that a divine ordinance of the greatest moment is to be deduced from inferences made from one or two doubtful texts? [* This objection has been frequently made, and been as frequently met: though not with success. All that is false and some points not false in answer, can be found in Tract 85, which made a great stir in its day, creating fierce indignation. It was the boldest answer that had ever been made; was in fact a challenge of defiance.] If you claim that this ecclesiastical institution [19/20] is divine, you must be able to place your finger upon the record. This is a matter where there should be no room for doubt, certainly among learned men. But there is doubt, there is denial, that any clear warrant can be found. Again; you are broken upon the wheel of an ecclesiastical absolutism if you accept the notion that church institutions are of necessity divine, and especially the episcopate.

Once more, the church is in a condition savoring of incurable disease, if we regard the episcopate as more than an ecclesiastical institution. For how does it fare to-day with the episcopate throughout the church? To say nothing of the East, the Roman Catholic bishop swears allegiance to the Roman pontiff; the Anglican bishop to the sovereign of Great Britain, to the laws of the realm and obedience to his metropolitan; the Protestant Episcopal bishop to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The Roman bishop registers not only the decrees but the commands and wishes of the Pope. The Anglican bishop is subject to the authority of Parliament; the American bishop to the General Convention, which consists not only of bishops but of presbyters and laymen. Everywhere you find bishop against bishop in one and the same city--the one and the one only thing they possess in common, being the exclusive right of confirming and ordaining and in their common descent; but in all other respects, they differ and are subject to different laws which are imposed upon them as conditions or preliminaries to their reception of their high office. They may chafe under their limitations but they cannot help themselves. Now, which of these antagonistic bishops is to be received and [20/21] recognized as possessed of a divine right of origin and government?

Shall numbers decide the question? You cannot put a thing like this to vote. To what tribunal shall we appeal, as of God? We must settle the question by the aid of such light as God shall vouchsafe, but then we must join a church which refuses all fellowship with the bishop on the opposite side. The acceptance of the one is the rejection of the other, and are both of God? Have both authority, each an authority over the others? No; both are representatives of a lost unity, of a divided Christendom, while both retain the substance of a great ecclesiastical institution which has changed with the changing public and social and organized life of Christendom; while if both be divine, we behold the anomaly of one divine institution in hostility to another.

Then, once more, the history and literature of this subject, [* See note B at the end, p. 26.] especially in the mother church, swell the force of the argument that the episcopate is an ecclesiastical and not a divine institution. The burden of the contention among the Anglicans was that the church had always been under the regimen of bishops, and that no instance of any thing to the contrary could be adduced, and hence they who desired a presbyterian ministry placed themselves against the usages and laws of Christendom from the beginning. It is strange to notice the utter indifference of Cranmer, our greatest liturgist, in respect of the form of the ministry, and how Hooker, our noblest writer, backs and fills, asserts, then qualifies; his main argument for the divine authority of bishops being the universal custom of [21/22] the church of God and the inferred sanction of the Head of the church; and ever since, as indeed before, our theologians have been divided. Does not this division mean a great deal? What motive could present itself to the mind of an Englishman, adorned with the highest honors and dignities in the way of church preferment, for denying the divine institution of the episcopate? Would he not seem greater in his own and in the public estimation, if he thought his episcopal dignity of divine appointment? No; to many the evidence has seemed insufficient, the argument inconclusive.

In this time, when men, our Protestant brethren especially, are longing for a restoration of a lost unity, let us hold forth the episcopate as the primitive, consistent, enduring form of the ministerial constitution, but let us beware of weakening our position, by claiming that episcopacy is of divine appointment. Let us base our plea upon the ecclesiastical institution. With the sanction of seventeen hundred years or more attached to it, good, thoughtful, learned men will listen as they have never listened before to us, and find in our position the proper centre of a new union of believers. Here indeed it may be said that we are strong. For the primitive church was neither Independent, nor Presbyterian, nor Papal. It exhibits a rudimentary episcopate which rapidly crystallized into its completed shape. It has survived all revolutions, is recognized by an overwhelming majority of professing Christians throughout the world, has been found to be a salutary institution, is a safeguard against disintegration, binds and heals, unites the present with the past, and keeps the church, so far as man can keep it, steady on its course.


[23] NOTE A.

Oddly enough the declaration in the preface to the ordinal is supposed to be only against Presbyterians, but it is really against the seven orders held and preserved in the Church of Rome.

The prevailing theory of the Western Church was that there are seven orders or grades (ordines sive gradus) of ministers in the Church. The great Master of Sentences gives as a reason for this number, that the grace of the Holy Spirit is sevenfold (septiformem gratiam)! He says, nevertheless (Lib. IV., Distinct. XXIV.), "Cumque omnes spirituales sint et sacri, excellenter tamen canones duos tantum sacros ordines appelari censent, diaconatus, scilicet, et presbyteratus: quia hos solos primitiva ecclesia legitur habuisse, et de his solis praeceptum apostoli habemus....Sunt et alia quaedam non ordinum, sed dignitatum vel officiorum nomina. Dignitatis simul et officii nomen est Episcopus...."

Everything went by sevens. Seven deadly sins: seven sacraments: seven graces, seven virtues: seven orders, etc.; and at the Reformation, there was an extraordinary muddle, to say nothing of height of temper over it. Witness the following from Bp. Jewel in his "Defence of the Apology," etc. (Jewel's works, 3, p. 271 et seq.; Parker Society's edition):


"Here it had been your part to have declared your faith touching the holy sacrament of order, agreeable to the faith of the Catholic Church; that there be seven orders in the Church, four lesser and three greater; for so by good reason they are called. And, as for the institution, authority, and estimation of the greater, specially of the priesthood and deaconship, ye might have alleged the Scriptures; so for the lesser, the example of Christ, the tradition of the apostles, and the testimonies written of the apostles' scholars, of those that both next and soon after followed them, namely, Dionys., Cap. iii., Hierarch. Ecclesiast.; Ignatius, Epist. 8, ad Ecclesiam Antiochenam; Tertull. in Praescript. adversus Haereticos; Gaius, pope and martyr in Diocletian's time; Zosimus in St. Augustine's time; Isichius; Eusebius Caesariensis in his Ecclesiastical History, and Epiphanius in the end of his book Contra Haereses."


"Gentle reader, if I should leave these and other like M. Harding's words unanswered, thou mightest happily think he had said somewhat. Here he saith, it had been our part to have told thee of seven orders in the Church, three greater and four less; having indeed himself clean forgotten his own part. For, notwithstanding this controlment and account of so many orders, yet he nameth no more orders than we have named. And verily, if he would have followed his own authorities, it had been hard for him in any good order to have made up his own account.

"For his own Anacletus saith (I call him his own, for that it is only a forged pamphlet, never written by that holy father Anacletus, as it is easy to be seen--but whatsoever he were thus he saith): Amplius quam isti duo ordines sacerdotum (episcopi et presbyteri) nec nobis a Deo collati sunt, nec apostoli docuerunt: 'More than these two orders of priests (bishops and elders) neither hath God appointed us, nor have the apostles [23/24] taught us.' And yet of these same two several orders, St. Hierome seemeth to make only one order. For thus he writeth: Audio quendam in tantam eripuisse vecordiam, ut diaconos presbyteris, id est, episcopis anteferret: 'I hear say there is a man broken out unto such wilful fury, that he placeth deacons before priests, that is to say, before bishops.' And again: Apostolus praecipue docet eosdem esse presbyteros quos episcopos: 'The apostle, Paul, specially teacheth us that priests and bishops are all one.' The same St. Hierome, writing upon the prophet Esay, reckoneth only five orders or degrees in the whole Church; the bishops, the priests, the deacons, the enterers or beginners, and the faithful: and other order of the Church he knoweth none.

"Addition.--As for M. Harding's pretty imaginations of terms general and terms special, they are mere vanities not worth the hearing. For St. Hierome's words be plain enough: 'A priest and a bishop is all one thing; and, before that by the working of the devil parts were taken in religion, and some said, I hold of Paul; some, I hold of Apollo; and some others, I hold of Peter; the Churches were governed by the common council of the priests.'

"Clemens saith: Tribus....gradibus commissa sunt sacramenta divinorum secretorum, id est, presbytero, diacono, et ministro: 'The mysteries of the holy secrecies be committed unto three orders; that is, unto the priests, unto the deacons, and unto the ministers;' and yet deacons and ministers, as touching the name, are all one.

"Dionysius likewise hath three orders, but not the same; for he reckoneth bishops, priests, and deacons. And, whereas M. Harding maketh his account of four of the less or inferior orders, meaning thereby ostiarios, lectores, exorcistas, acoluthos, 'the door-keepers, the readers, the conjurers, and the waiters or followers;' his own Ignatius addeth thereto three other orders, cantores, laboratores, confitentes, 'the chanters or singers, the labourers, and the confessors.' Clemens added thereto catechistas, 'the informers or teachers' of them that were entering into the faith. A little vain book, bearing the name of St. Hierome, De Septem Ordinibus Ecclesiae,
addeth yet another order, and calleth them fossarios, that is, 'the sextines,' or overseers of the graves. And, lest you should think he reckoneth this order as amongst other necessary offices to serve the people, and not as any part of the clergy, his words be these: clericis fossariorum ordo est; qui in similitudinem Tobiae sancti sepelire mortuos admonent: 'The first order of the clergy is the order of the sextines; which, as holy Toby was wont to do, call upon the people for the burial of the dead.'

"Likewise to the three greater orders Isidorus addeth another distinct and several order of bishops; unto whom agreeth Gulielmus Altisiodorensis and Gottofredus Pictaviensis, as appeareth by Johannes Scotus. Again, of the other inferior orders St. Hierome leaveth out the conjurers and waiters; St. Ambrose leaveth out the waiters and door-keepers; the canons of the apostles leave out conjurers, waiters and door-keepers, all three together.

"In this so great dissension and darkness, what way will M. Harding take to follow? By Anacletus there are two orders; by Clemens and St. Hierome three; By Hierome counterfeit seven; by others eight; by others nine; by others ten.

"All this, notwithstanding, he telleth us our part had been to have shewed that there be just seven orders in the Church, three great and four less, without doubt or question.

[25] 'Here, gentle reader, it had been M. Harding's part to have shewed us the reasons and grounds of this divinity: these they be, as they are alleged by the best of that side: Christ saith, 'I am the door;' ergo 'there must be in the Church an order of door-keepers.' Christ saith, 'I am the light of the world.' Hereupon have they founded the order of acoluthes to carry tapers. And so for the rest. Thus much may serve for a taste.

"Now let us consider what these orders have to do, and with how holy and weighty offices they stand charged in the Church of God. First, Clemens (of whose authority M. Harding maketh no small account, for he calleth him the apostles' fellow) writeth thus: Unus hypodiaconus det aquam manibus sacerdotum: ....duo diaconi ex utraque parte altaris teneant flabellum confectum ex tenuibus membranis vel ex pavonum pennis, quibus leviter abigant praetervolantes bestiolas, ne in pocula incidant: 'Let one of the subdeacons give water to the priest's hands: let two deacons stand at the two ends of the altar, either of them with a fan made of fine parchment, or of peacocks' tails, therewith softly to chase away the flies, that they fall not into the communion cups.' The offices of other inferior orders be these, as they be noted by one of M. Harding's own side: Ad minores ordines haec spectant; portare cereos et urceolum, (et) canes expellere de ecclesia: 'To the less orders these things belong; to carry tapers and holy water stocks, and to drive dogs out of the Church.' These, I trow, be the mystical holy orders, whereof M. Harding saith our part had been to have made some long discourse; being himself ashamed, as it may appear by his silence, either to name them in particular, or to open the secrets of their offices.

"Howbeit indeed, good Christian reader, sundry of these offices in the primitive Church were appointed to very good and sober purposes. The door-keeper's office was then to keep out excommunicate persons that they should not press in among the faithful. The psalmist's or singer's office was to sing the psalms, thereby to move the people's hearts to devotion. The exorcist's office was, by a special gift of God, serving only for that time, to call forth foul spirits out of the bodies of them that were possessed. The reader's office was openly, and plainly, and distinctly to pronounce the Scriptures unto the people; and to this use the bishop delivered unto him a book with this charge: Accipe, et esto relator verbi Dei: 'Take thou this book, and be thou a pronouncer of the word of God.' And therefore Isidorus saith: tam clara erit ejus vox, ut quamvis longe positorum, aures adimpleat: 'The reader's voice must be so loud and so clear, that it may be able to fill the ears of them that stand far off.' The acoluthe's or waiter's office was to attend upon the bishop, as a witness of his conversation.

"To such good uses these offices then served in the Church of God. But now there is nothing left, saving the bare name only, without any manner, use or office. For neither doth the ostiarius keep out the excommunicates, nor doth the acoluthus wait upon the bishop, nor doth the exorcist cast forth devils, nor doth the psalmist sing psalms, nor doth the reader openly pronounce the Scriptures (I might yet step a little farther, to open the whole beauty of the clergy of Rome), nor doth the deacon make provision for the poor, nor doth the bishop preach the word of God.

"This had been our part to have opened at large; and for leaving of the same we were worthy, by M. Harding's judgment, to be reproved.'

[26] This is a curious and interesting extract. It was a very important factor in the contention between the English apologists and the Romanists. There was no question then about Presbyterianism. The famous sentence in the Ordinal was directed only against the prevailing Romish Theory. Dr. Nicholls in his Commentary upon the Prayer Book has a very learned note, which I commend to the notice of students interested in this discussion. He begins by saying "These words are added in opposition to the Church of Rome," i.e., the words, "these orders, etc."

There were no Presbyterian congregations in England when this preface was written. In 1550 (?) there were churches or congregations of foreign Protestants, under the charge and care of John A'Lasco, in London, but surely they could not have been aimed at. No, the preface is against Rome, and inferentially in support of the national Episcopate. I must cite one more author upon the number of orders in the Church because he was much read and often mentioned in the memorable decade 1835-1845, which has so profoundly affected the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in this country. Palmer in his Treatise of the Church, Vol. I., p. 374 (as quoted by Archibald John Stephens in his work upon the Book of Common Prayer, Vol. III., p. 2062), says, "If we divide the sacred ministry according to its degrees instituted by God and understood (understand?) the word order in the sense of 'degree' we may very truly say that there are three orders of the Christian ministry; but if we distribute it according to its nature, we may say that there are only two orders, viz.: bishops or presbyters and deacons; for pastors of the first and second degree exercise a ministry of the same nature. Both are ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God; both are invested with the cure of souls, and the government of the Church in their respective degrees; both are sent to teach and preach the Gospel of Christ; to make disciples by baptism; to celebrate the Eucharist; to bless the congregation; to offer prayers and spiritual sacrifices in the presence of all the people; even to seal with the Holy Spirit in confirmation. In the power of ordination alone do the ministers of the first degree differ absolutely from the second, and therefore may be considered, in general, as of the same order."

In a Church like our own, where every thing is now done to increase the difference between the bishops and presbyters, this note may have some special uses. Some of our bishops talk of their isolation. Why need they be isolated? What is there in the nature of their work which calls for it? The sooner we seek to put an end to this isolation the better it will be for all of us. A bishop is oppressed with many burdens in our Church. Feeble parishes, an underpaid clergy, if he be a man of heart and conscience, weigh upon him. He cannot get rid of the pressure. Surely he needs and can have the support and sympathy of his brethren in the ministry. But this sympathy is lost if and when it is thought that some unspeakable mystery of "order" envelopes the bishop ex officio.


It is worth while, I submit, to present here a brief review of the salient features of the variations of English ecclesiastical thinking upon the Episcopate during the last three hundred and fifty years. No doubt, the overwhelming majority of our writers have believed the Episcopate to be of apostolic origin. But a majority of known writers has not claimed it to be directly of divine appointment. They have appealed to the "mos ecclesiae" --the usage of the Church. [26/27] The theologians of the sixteenth century until towards its close argued for its divine authority inferentially only. He would be a bold man and certainly an ignorant one who would assert that there was unanimity or that there ever has been unanimity in this particular.

I go back, first of all, to the "resolutions" of the foremost theologians in the reign of Henry VIII--to the year 1536-38--before the reformed doctrines had any appreciable hold or authority over the public Church mind of England. From the documents printed in Jeremy Collier's History, vol. ix., pp. 201-207 (comp. also Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol. i., p. 585 et. seq., Applecon's ed., 1843), we gather the following:

10. "Question:

Whether bishops or priests were first; and if the priests were first, then the priest made the bishop.


Canterbury.--The bishops and priests were at one time, and were not two things, but both one office in the beginning of Christ's religion.

York.--To the tenth, we think, that the apostles were priests before they were bishops; and that the divine power which made them priests, made them also bishops. And although their ordination was not by all such course as the Church now useth; yet that they had both visible and invisible sanctification, we may gather of the Gospel, where it is written, 'Sicut misit me Pater vivens, et ego mitto vos; et cum haec dixit, insufflavit in eos et dixit, Accipite Spiritum Sanctum; quorum remiseritis,' &c.; and we may well think, that then they were made bishops, when they had not only a flock, but also shepherds appointed to them to overlook, and a governance committed to them by the Holy Ghost to oversee both; for the name of a bishop is not properly a name of order, but a name of office, signifying an overseer. And although the inferior shepherds have also cure to oversee their flock, yet, forasmuch as the bishop's charge is also to oversee the shepherds, the name of overseer is given to the bishops, and not to the other; and as they be in degree higher, so in their consecration we find difference even from the primitive Church.

London.--To the tenth, I think the bishops were first; and yet I think it is not of importance, whether the priest then made the bishop, or else the bishop the priest; considering (after the sentence of St. Jerome) that in the beginning of the Church there was none (or, if it were, very small) difference between a bishop and a priest, especially touching the signification.

Rochester.--I find in Scripture, that Christ, being both a priest and a bishop, ordained His apostles, who were both priests and bishops; and the same apostles did afterwards ordain bishops, and commanded them to ordain others.

Carlisle.--Christ made his apostles exorcists, and it appeareth in the 10th of St. Matthew; deacons, priests and bishops, as partly there, and after, in the 20th of St, John, 'quorum remiseritis.' &c.; and where he said 'hoc facite in mean commemorationem.' In the Acts, 'caeterorum nemo audebat se conjungere illis.' So that they were all these together; and so being according to the ordinance of Christ, who had made after them seventy-two priests, as it appeareth in the 10th of St. Luke; they made and ordained also others the seven principal deacons, as it is showed in the 8th of the Acts, where it is said, that they, praying, laid their hands upon them. In the 13th of the Acts, certain there named, at the commandment of the Holy Ghost, severed [27/28] Saul and Barnabas to that God had taken them, fasting, praying, and laying their hands upon them; the which Saul, Ananias the disciple had baptised, laying his hand upon him, that he might be replenished with the Holy Ghost. And Paul so made, ordained Timothy and Tite, willing them to do likewise as he had done, and appointed to be done from city to city. James was ordained the bishop of Jerusalem, by Peter, John, and James. So that example otherwise we read not.

Dr. Robertson.--Incertus sum utri fuere priores, at si apostoli in prima profectione ordinati erant, apparet episcopos fuisse priores, nempe apostolos, nam postea designavit Christus alios septuaginta duos. Nec opinor absurdum esse, ut sacerdos episcopum consecret, si episcopus haberi non potest.

Dr. Cox.--Although by Scripture (as St. Hierom saith) priests and bishops be one, and therefore the one not afore the other; yet bishops, as they be now, were after priests, and therefore made of priests.

Dr. Day.--The apostles were both bishops and priests, and they made bishops and priests as Titus and Timotheus made priests. Episcopatum ejus accipiat alter,' Acts i. 'Presbyteros qui in vobis sunt, obsecro et ego compresbyter,' I. Peter v. And in the beginning of the Church, as well that word episcopus, as presbyter, was common and attributed both to bishops and priests.

Dr. Oglethorpe.--Utrique primi a Deo facti, apostoli, episcopi; septuaginta discipuli (ut conjectura ducor) sacerdotes. Unde verisimile est episcopos praecessisse, apostoli enim prius vocati erant.

Dr. Redmayn.--They be of like beginning, and at the beginning were both one, as St. Hierom and other old authors show by the Scripture, wherefore one made another indifferently.

Dr. Edgeworth.--Christ, our chief Priest and Bishop, made his apostles priests and bishops all at once, and they did likewise make others, some priests and some bishops; and that the priest in the primitive Church made bishops, I think no inconvenience (as Jerome saith, in an epistle 'Ad Evagrium'). Even like as soldiers should choose one among themselves to be their captain, so did priests choose one of themselves to be their bishop, for consideration of his learning, gravity and good living, &c., and also for to avoid schisms among themselves by them, that some might not draw the people one way, and others another way, if they lacked one head among them.

Dr. Symmons.--Christ was, and is the great high Bishop, and made all His apostles bishops; and they made bishops and priests after Him, and so hath it evermore continued hitherto.

Dr. Tresham.--I say, Christ made the apostles first priests, and then bishops, and they by this authority made both priests and bishops, but where there had been a Christian prince, they would have desired his authority to the same.

Dr. Leyghton.--To tenth.

Dr. Coren.--The apostles were made of Christ bishops and priests, both at the first; and after them, septuaginta duo discipuli were made priests.

Agreement.--In the tenth, where it is asked whether bishops or Priests were first? the bishop of St. David's, my lord elect of Westminster, Dr. Cox, Dr. Redman, say, that at the beginning they were all one. The bishops of York, London, Rochester, Carlisle; Drs. Day, Tresham, Symmons, Oglethorp, be in other contrary opinions. The bishop of York and Dr. Tresham think that the apostles were first [28/29] priests, and after were made bishops, when the overseeing of other priests was committed to them. My lords of Duresme, London, Carlisle, Rochester; Dr. Symmons and Crafford, think that the apostles first were bishops, and they after made other bishops and priests. Dr. Coren and Oglethorp say, that the apostles were made bishops, and the seventy-two were after made priests. Dr. Day thinks that bishops, as they be nowadays called, were before priests. My lord of London, Drs. Edgeworth and Robertson, think it no inconvenience if a priest made a bishop in that time.

11. Question:

Whether a bishop hath authority to make a priest by the Scripture, or no? and whether any other but only a bishop may make a priest?


Canterbury.--A bishop may make a priest by the Scripture; and so may princes and governors also, and that by the authority of God committed to them, and the people also by their election. For as we read that bishops have done it, so Christian emperors and princes usually have done it, and the people, before Christian princes were, commonly did elect their bishops and priests.

York.--To the eleventh, that a bishop may make a priest, may be deduced of Scripture; for so much as they have all authority necessary for the ordering of Christ's Church, derived from the apostles, who made bishops and priests, and not without authority, as we have said before to the ninth question; and that any other than bishops or priests may make a priest, we neither find in Scripture nor out of Scripture.

London.--To the eleventh, I think that a bishop, duly appointed, hath authority by Scripture to make a bishop, and also a priest; because Christ being a bishop, did so make Himself; and because alive, His apostles did the like.

Rochester.--The Scripture showeth, by example, that a bishop hath authority to make a priest; albeit no bishop, being subject to a Christian prince, may either give orders to excommunicate, or use any manner of jurisdiction, or any part of his authority, without commission from the king, who is supreme head of that Church, whereof he is a member; but that any other man may do it besides a bishop, I find no example, either in Scripture, or in doctors.

Carlisle.--By what is said before, it appeareth that a bishop, by Scripture, may make deacons and priests, and that we have no example otherwise.

Dr. Robertson.--Opinor episcopum habere authoritatem creandi sacerdotem, modo id magistratus publici permissu fiat. An vero ab alio quam episcopo id rite fieri possit, haud scio, quamvis ab alio factum non memini me legisse. Ordin, conferr, gratiam. vid. Ec. Homil. 60.

Dr. Cox.--Bishops have authority, as is aforesaid, of the apostles, in the tenth question, to make priests, except in cases of great necessity.

Dr. Day.--Bishops have authority by Scripture to ordain bishops and priests, John xx. 'Hujus rei gratia reliqui to Cretae, ut constituas oppidatim presbyteros.' Tit. i., Acts xiv.

Dr. Oglethorp.--"Autoritas ordinandi presbyteros data est episcopis per verbum, multisque aliis quos legi."

Dr. Redmayn.--To the first part, I answer, yea; for so it appeareth, Tit. i. and I. Tim. v., with other places of Scripture. But whether any other but only a bishop may make a priest, I have not read; but, by singular privilege of God, as when Moses (whom divers authors say [29/30] was not a priest) made Aaron a priest. Truth it is, that the office of a godly prince is to oversee the Church, and the ministers thereof; and to cause them to do their duty, and also to appoint them special charges and offices in the Church, as may be most for the glory of God, and edifying of the people; and thus we read of the good kings in the Old Testament, David, Joas, Ezekias, Josias. But as for making, that is to say, ordaining and consecrating of priests, I think it specially belongeth to the office of a bishop, and as far as can be showed by Scripture, or any example, as I suppose, from the beginning.

Dr. Edgeworth.--A bishop hath authority by Scripture to make a priest, and that any other ever made a priest since Christ's time I read not. Albeit Moses, who was not anointed priest, made Aaron priest and bishop, by a special commission or revelation from God, without which he would never so have done.

Dr. Symmons.--A bishop, placed by the higher powers, and admitted to minister may make a priest; and I have not read of any other that ever made priests.

Dr. Trenham.--I say, a bishop hath authority by Scripture to make a priest, and other than a bishop hath not power therein, but only in cases of necessity.

Dr. Leyghton--To the eleventh, I suppose that a bishop hath authority of God, as His minister, by Scripture, to make a priest; but he ought not to admit any man to be priest, and consecrate him, or appoint him to any ministry in the Church, without the prince's license and consent, in a Christian region. And that any other man hath authority to make a priest by Scripture, I have not read, nor any example thereof.

Dr. Coren.--A bishop, being licensed by his prince and supreme governor, hath authority to make a priest by the law of God. I do not read that any priest hath been ordered by any other than a bishop.

Agreement.--In the eleventh: to the former part of the question, the bishop of St. David's doth answer, that bishops have no authority to make priests without they be authorized of the Christian princes. The others, all of them do say, that they be authorized of God. Yet some of them--as the bishop of Rochester, Dr. Curren, Leighton, Robertson--add, that they cannot use this authority without their Christian prince doth permit them. To the second part, the answer of the bishop of St. David's is, that laymen have otherwhiles made priests. So doth Dr. Edgeworth and Redman say, that Moses, by a privilege given him of God, made Aaron his brother priest. Dr. Tresham, Crayford, and Cox, say, that laymen may make priests in time of necessity. The bishops of York, Duresme, Rochester, Carlisle, elect of Westminster, Dr. Curren, Leighton, Simmons, seem to deny this thing; for they say, they find not, nor read not any such example."

We have in this report, a fair transcript of the thinking of English Churchmen when the air was thickening and the signs of coming storm were visible to every one. Much is even crude, but in any event, it is interesting. In the great years that followed, during Henry's lifetime and immediately after his death, when the separation from Rome became complete, the two institutions most furiously attacked were the Papacy and the mass. The Papal question was in the mind of every man, and the opinions about Episcopacy did not vary in tone from the generally expressed opinions in these "resolutions" just quoted. During the reign of Edward VI., the equality of bishops was [30/31] insisted upon, as against the Romanists, and, perhaps, the tendency to minimize the difference between presbyters and bishops increased. But there is nothing that demands special notice beyond the fact that the Ordinal with its famous preface was published in the year 1549.

The great revolution in the conception of the nature and functions of the Christian ministry was coming slowly over England. The idea of a sacerdotal order (sacerdos,) in the Church of God was beginning to fade away or to be vehemently repudiated, was repudiated most emphatically, even in Edward's time, when his death wrought counter revolution as with the swiftness of lightning, and the "old order" came back again.

To a Churchman, the reign of "bloody Mary" must forever be regarded as the cause and occasion of lasting disaster. She burned and did her best to destroy all the men who were conspicuous in their devotion to the Reformation, and many who escaped her pious fury by flight to the Continent, brought home with them the seeds of all dissensions, dissent, non-conformity, and presbyterianism, which took root and bore a harvest of debate, contention, acrimony, bitterness, and division in our English-speaking Christendom. After their return those of the Marian exiles who had become disaffected towards the Church of England began to attack the "regimen by bishops;" they clamored for what they regarded as the Scriptural constitution of the Church, and one result of their clamor was that they gradually caused a shifting of the ground upon which Episcopacy had been maintained by the best scholars of Christendom.

In the earlier years of Elizabeth's reign, this change is not perceptible. But gradually the fact that the Church of England was between two fires, was becoming apparent. The Romanists were eager, vigilant, dangerous both to Church and State. The Puritan party, loyal to the Queen indeed, were becoming dangerous to the peace of the Church. Their hostility to the Church gathered each year increasing force and bitterness. Their points of attack were the Prayer Book, clerical vestments, Church ceremonies, and the Hierarchy. They pressed the argument for the equality of all ministers of Christ in respect of their official power and jurisdiction, and the Churchmen began to draw the line more sharply than ever before between the powers of the bishop and of the presbyter respectively. Hooker was in great travail over the distinction. See Bk. V., chap. lxxviii. Nor does he appear to advantage in his seventh book. Even its genuineness, though upon insufficient grounds, has been questioned. To be sure he reasons with his accustomed splendor in behalf of the regimen of the Church by bishops, but he is painfully irresolute in the exposition of any propositions which claim for the Episcopate more than had hitherto been the habit of theologians. He falls back upon probabilities, a new departure in an Englishman of his time, and expresses himself accordingly: "Power of censure and ordination appeareth even by Scripture marvellous probable [the italics are mine] to have been derived from Christ to His Church," etc. (Bk. VII., chap. xi., Sect. 4); and on the following page, "now although we should leave the general persuasion held from the first beginning, that the apostles themselves left bishops invested with power above other pastors; although, I say, we would give over this opinion, and embrace that other conjecture which so many have thought good to follow, and which myself did sometimes judge a great deal more probable than now I do, namely that after the apostles [31/32] were deceased, Churches did agree amongst themselves, for preservation of peace and order, to make one presbyter in each city chief over the rest, and to translate into him that power by force and virtue whereof the apostles, while they were alive, did preserve and uphold order in the Church,....this order taken by the Church itself....were, notwithstanding, more warrantable than that it should give place and be abrogated, because the ministry of the Gospel, and the functions thereof, ought to be from heaven." He clearly was hesitating. He had been subjecting old questions to a new examination; and he really stands midway between the older and the newer ecclesiastical beliefs of his day. It is easy to see that Hooker sometimes writes like "an advocate with a brief," and yet if one wishes to learn something of his personal convictions and of the genuine power of his thought, let him read the Preface to the Ecclesiastical Polity.

Still, new beliefs were forming rapidly. While Hooker was meditating his work, which proved to be so great, Bancroft preached a sermon at Paul's Cross (1588), which produced wonderful commotion. In this sermon the preacher maintained that bishops were a divinely appointed order in the Church distinct from and superior to the orders of presbyters. The stir was so great that, according to Neal, Sir Francis Knollys wrote to Dr. Reynolds for information. Dr. Reynolds is forgotten now, but he was a considerable man in his day--was Professor of Divinity and President of Corpus Christi, and more than half Puritan. He replied to Sir Francis as follows (I can quote but a fragment):

"As for the general consent of the Church, which, the doctor says, condemned Aerius' opinion for heresy, what proof does he bring for it? It appears (he says) in Epiphanius, but I say it does not; and the contrary appears by St. Jerom, and sundry others who lived about the same time. I grant that St. Austin, in his book of heresies, ascribes this to Aerius for one; that he said there ought to be no difference between a priest and a bishop, because this was to condemn the Church's order, and to make a schism therein. But it is a quite different thing to say, that by the word of God there is a difference between them, and to say that it is by the order and custom of the Church, which is all that St. Austin maintains. When Harding, the papist, alleged these very witnesses to prove the opinion of bishops and priests being of the same order to be heresy, our learned bishop Jewel cited to the contrary Chrysostom, Jerom, Ambrose and St. Austin, himself, and concluded his answer with these words: All these and other more holy fathers, together with the Apostle Paul, for thus saying, by Harding's advice, must be held for heretics. Michael Medina, a man of great account in the council of Trent, adds to the forementioned testimonies, Theodorus, Primarius, Sedulius, Theophylact, with whom agree Oecumenius, the Greek scholiast, Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, Gregory, and Gratian; and after them how many? It being once enrolled in the canon law for Catholic doctrine, and thereupon taught by learned men.

"Besides, all that have labored in reforming the Church for 500 years have taught, that all pastors, be they entitled bishops or priests, have equal authority and power by God's word; as first the Waldenses, next Marsilius Patavinus, then Wickliffe and his scholars, afterwards Husse and the Hussites; and last of all, Luther, Calvin, Brentius, Bullinger, and Musculus. Among ourselves we have bishops, the Queen's professors of divinity in our universities, and [32/33] other learned men consenting herein, as Bradford, Lambert, Jewel, Pilkington, Humphreys, Fulke, etc. But what do I speak of particular persons? It is the common judgment of the reformed Churches of Helvetia, Savoy, France, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Low Countries, and our own. I hope Dr. Bancroft will not say, that all these have approved that for sound doctrine which was condemned by the general consent of the whole Church for heresy, in a most flourishing time; I hope he will acknowledge that he was overseen, when he avouched, the superiority which bishops have among us over the clergy to be God's own Ordinance.

"As for the doctor's saying that St. Jerom and Calvin from him, confessed that bishops have had the same superiority ever since the time of St. Mark, the evangelist, I think him mistaken, because neither Jerom says it, nor does Calvin seem to confess it on his report; for bishops among us may do sundry other things, besides ordaining and laying on of hands, which inferior ministers or priests may not; whereas St. Jerom says, What does a bishop except ordination which a priest does not? meaning, that, in his time, bishops had only that power above priests; which Chrysostom also witnesses in Homily xi. on I. Timothy. Nor had they this privilege alone in all places, for in the council of Carthage it is said, that the priests laid their hands together with the bishop's on those who were ordained. And at St. Jerom having proved by Scripture, that in the apostles' time bishops and priests were all one, yet granteth that afterwards bishops had that peculiar to themselves somewhere, but nothing else; so that St. Jerom does not say concerning the superiority in question, that bishops have had it even since St. Mark's time, etc. (Neal's History of the Puritans, Vol. I., chap. vii, p. 481-82.) The contention of Reynolds was that Bancroft had published a novel doctrine.

But another drift and fashion had set in, and nothing could stop them. Still, the old ideas were not destined to sudden extinction. The new and the old are always in periods of change in force together. While the arena on the lower levels is filled with antagonists, upon the higher levels old beliefs are often maintained with great dignity and power and with a noble disregard of the outside tumult. The last of the men in the Church of England who lived, and thought, and wrote, in this nobler reticence, was Field. For sustained elevation of thought and expression, for learning and candor, his "Book of the Church" has scarcely an equal in our theological literature. I do not wonder that Coleridge, in sending a copy of it to his son Derwent, wrote: "If you can master the contents of this book, you will delight the heart of your loving father." No apology is needed for the long extract I here make.


Book III., Chap. xxxix., p. 317 et seq. Camb. 1847.

"That they, who ordained our ministers in the beginning of the alteration of religion, had no power so to do, thus they prove. No bishop may be esteemed and taken as lawfully ordained, unless he be ordained of three bishops at the least; and they, such as have been ordained in like sort; and so ascending till we come to the first, whom the apostles did constitute by their apostolic authority received immediately from Christ the Son of God, whom the Father sent into the world; but the pastors and bishops of the reformed Churches had no such ordination; [33/34] therefore they wanted that calling which should make them lawful bishops and pastors.

It is true, that the ancient canons regularly admit no ordination as lawful, wherein three bishops at the least do not concur. But Bellarmine and his fellows do not think this number of bishops imposing hands to be absolutely and essentially necessary; for they confess, that by dispensation, growing out of due and just consideration of the present occasions and state of things, one bishop alone may ordain, assisted with abbots, which are but presbyters, and no bishops: nay, which by the course of their profession, and original of their order, are less interested in the government of the Church, than the meanest presbyter having the care of souls. 'Monachus non doctoris habet officium sed plangentis.' 'A monk is a mourner; he is no teacher in the Church of God.' The Romanists thinking therefore that, in some cases, the ordination which is made by one bishop alone, assisted with presbyters, is lawful and good, cannot generally except against the ordination of the bishops and pastors of all the reformed Churches. For in England, Denmark, and some other places, they which had been bishops in the former corrupt state of the Church, did ordain bishops and ministers, though perhaps precisely three did not always concur in every particular ordination.

But they will say, whatsoever may be thought of these places wherein bishops did ordain, yet in many other none but presbyters did impose hands; all which ordinations are clearly void; and so, by consequent, many of the pretended reformed Churches, as, namely, those of France and others, have no ministry at all. The next thing therefore to be examined is, whether the power of ordination be so essentially annexed to the order of bishops, that none but bishops may in any case ordain. For the clearing whereof we must observe, that the whole ecclesiastical power is aptly divided into the power of order and jurisdiction. 'Ordo est rerum parium dispariumque unicuique sua loca tribuens congrua dispositio.' That is, 'Order is an apt disposing of things, whereof some are greater, and some lesser, some better, and some meaner, sorting them accordingly into their several ranks and places.' First therefore, order doth signify that mutual reference or relation that things sorted into their several ranks and places have between themselves; secondly, that standing which each thing obtaineth, in that it is better or worse, greater or lesser than another, and so accordingly sorted and placed above or below other, in the orderly disposition of things. The power of holy or ecclesiastical order, is nothing else but that power which is specially given to men sanctified and set apart from others, to perform certain sacred supernatural and eminent actions, which others of another rank may not at all, or, not ordinarily, meddle with; as, to preach the word, administer the sacraments, and the like.

The next kind of ecclesiastical power is, that of jurisdiction. For the more distinct and full understanding whereof we must note, that three things are implied in the calling of ecclesiastical ministers. First, an election, choice, or designment of persons fit for so high and excellent employment. Secondly, the consecrating of them, and giving them power and authority to intermeddle with things pertaining to the service of God, to perform eminent acts of gracious efficacy and admirable force, tending to the procuring of the eternal good of the sons of men, and to yield unto them whom Christ hath redeemed with his most precious blood, all the comfortable means, assurances and helps that [34/35] may set forward their eternal salvation. Thirdly, the assigning and dividing out to each man, thus sanctified to so excellent a work, that portion of God's people which he is to take care of, who must be directed by Him in things that pertain to the hope of eternal salvation. This particular assignation giveth to them, that had only the power of order before, the power of jurisdiction also, over the persons of men.

Thus, then, it is necessary that the people of God be sorted into several portions, and the sheep of Christ divided into several flocks, for the more orderly guiding of them, and yielding to them the means, assurances, and helps that may set them forward in the way of eternal life; and that several men be severally and specially assigned, to take the care and oversight of several flocks and portions of God's people. The apostles of Christ and their successors, when they planted the Churches, so divided the people of God converted by their ministry, into particular Churches, that each city and the places near adjoining did make but one Church. Now, because the unity and peace of each particular Church of God, and flock of His sheep, dependeth on the unity of the pastor, and yet the necessities of the many duties that are to be performed in Churches of so large extent, require more ecclesiastical ministers than one; therefore, though they be many presbyters, that is, many fatherly guides of one Church, yet there is one amongst the rest, that is specially pastor of the place, who for distinction sake, is named a bishop; to whom an eminent and peerless power is given, for the avoiding of schisms and factious; and the rest are but assistants and coadjutors, and named by the general name of presbyters. So that, in the performance of the acts of ecclesiastical ministry, when he is present and will do them himself, they must give place; and, in his absence, or when being present he needeth assistance, they may do nothing without his consent and liking. Yea, so far for order sake is he preferred before the rest, that some things are specially reserved to him only, as the ordaining of such as should assist him in the work of his ministry; the reconciling of penitents; confirmation of such as were baptized; by imposition of hands; dedication of churches, and such like.

These being the divers sorts and kinds of ecclesiastical power, it will easily appear to all them that enter into the due consideration thereof, that the power of ecclesiastical or sacred order, that is, the power and authority to intermeddle with things pertaining to the service of God, and to perform eminent acts of gracious efficacy, tending to the procuring of the eternal good of the sons of men, is equal and the same in all those whom we call presbyters, that is, fatherly guides of God's Church and people; and that, only for order sake, and the preservation of peace, there is a limitation of the use and exercise of the same. Hereunto agree all the best learned amongst the Romanists themselves, freely confessing that that wherein a bishop excelleth a presbyter, is not a distinct and higher order, or power of order, but a kind of dignity and office or employment only. Which they prove, because a presbyter ordained per saltum, that never was consecrated or ordained deacon, may, notwithstanding, do all those acts that pertain to the deacon's order, because the higher order doth always imply in it the lower and inferior, in an eminent and excellent sort; but a bishop ordained per saltum, that never had the ordination of a presbyter, can neither consecrate and administer the sacrament of the Lord's body; nor ordain a presbyter, himself being none; nor do an act peculiarly pertaining to presbyters. Whereby it is most evident, that wherein a bishop excelleth a presbyter, [35/36] is not a distinct power of order, but an eminence and dignity only, specially yielded to one above all the rest of the same rank, for order sake, and to preserve the unity and peace of the Church. Hence it followeth that many things which in some cases presbyters may lawfully do are peculiarly reserved unto bishops, as Hierome noteth: 'Potius ad honorem sacerdotii, quam ad legis necessitatem;' 'Rather for the honor of their ministry, than the necessity of any law.' And therefore we read, that presbyters in some places, and at some times, did impose hands, and confirm such as were baptized; which when Gregory, Bishop of Rome, would wholly have forbidden, there was so great exception taken to him for it, that he left it free again. And who knoweth not, that all presbyters in cases of necessity may absolve and reconcile penitents; a thing in ordinary course appropriated unto bishops? And why not, by the same reason, ordain presbyters and deacons in cases of like necessity? For, seeing the cause why they are forbidden to do these acts is, because to bishops ordinarily the care of all Churches is committed, and to them, in all reason, the ordination of such as must serve in the Church pertaineth, that have the chief care of the Church, and have Churches wherewith to employ them; which only bishops have, as long as they retain their standing, and not presbyters, being but assistants to bishops in their Churches. If they become enemies to God and true religion, in case of such necessity as the care and government of the Church is devolved to the presbyters remaining Catholic and being of a better spirit, so the duty of ordaining such as are to assist or succeed them in the work of the ministry pertains to them likewise. For if the power of order and authority to intermeddle in things pertaining to God's service be the same in all presbyters, and that they be limited in the execution of it only for order sake, so that in case of necessity every of them may baptize and confirm them whom they have baptized, absolve and reconcile penitents, and do all those other acts which regularly are appropriated unto the bishop alone; there is no reason to be given, but that in case of necessity, wherein all bishops were extinguished by death, or, being fallen into heresy, should refuse to ordain any to serve God in his true worship, but that presbyters, as they may do all other acts, whatsoever special challenge bishops in ordinary course make upon them, might do this also. Who, then, dare condemn all those worthy ministers of God that were ordained by presbyters, in sundry Churches of the world, at such times as bishops, in those parts where they lived, opposed themselves against the truth of God, and persecuted such as professed it? Surely the best learned in the Church of Rome in former times durst not pronounce all ordinations of this nature to be void. For, not only Armachanus, a very learned and worthy bishop, but, as it appeareth by Alexander of Hales, many learned men in his time and before were of opinion, that, in some cases and in some times, presbyters may give orders, and that their ordinations are of force, though to do so, not being urged by extreme necessity, cannot be excused from over great boldness and presumption. Neither should it seem so strange to our adversaries that the power of ordination should at some times be yielded unto presbyters, seeing their chorepiscopi, suffragans, or titular bishops, that live in the diocese and Churches of other bishops, and are no bishops according to the old course of discipline, do daily, in the Romish Church, both confirm children and give orders.

[37] All that may be alleged out of the fathers, for proof of the contrary, may be reduced to two heads. For first, whereas they make all such ordinations void as are made by presbyters, it is to be understood according to the strictness of the canons in use in their time, and not absolutely in the nature of the thing; which appears, in that they likewise make all ordinations sine titulo to be void; all ordinations of bishops ordained by fewer than three bishops with the metropolitan; all ordinations of presbyters by bishops out of their own Churches, without special leave: whereas I am well assured, the Romanists will not pronounce any of these to be void, though the parties so doing are not excusable from all fault. Secondly, their sayings are to be understood regularly; not without exception of some special cases that may fall out.

Thus, then, we see that objection which our adversaries took to be unanswerable, is abundantly answered out of the grounds of their own schoolmen, the opinion of many singularly learned amongst them, and their own daily practice in that chorepiscopi or suffragans, as they call them, being not bishops, but only presbyters, whatsoever they pretend, and forbidden by all old canons to meddle in ordination, yet do daily, with good allowance of the Roman Church, ordain presbyters and deacons; confirm (with imposition of hands) those that are baptized; and do all other episcopal acts; while their great bishops lord it like princes, in all temporal ease and worldly bravery.

The next thing they object against us is, that our first ministers, what authority soever they had that ordained them, yet had no lawful ordination, because they were not ordained and placed in void places, but intruded into Churches that had lawful bishops at the time of those pretended ordinations; and, consequently, did not succeed but encroach upon other men's right. To this we answer, that the Church is left void, either by the death, resignation, deprivation, or the people's desertion and forsaking of him that did precede. In some places, our first bishops and pastors found the Churches void by death; in some, by voluntary relinquishment; in some, by deprivation; and in some, by desertion, in that the people, or at least that part of the people that adhered to the Catholic verity, who have power to choose their pastor, to admit the worthy, and refuse the unworthy, did forsake the former that were wolves and not pastors, and submitted themselves to those of a better spirit. Of the three first kinds of voidance there can be no question; of this fourth there may; and, therefore I will prove it by sufficient authority and strength of reason.

Cyprian, Cecilius, Polycarpus, and other bishops, writing to the clergy and people of the Churches in Spain, whereof Basilides and Martialis were bishops, who fell in time of persecution, denied the faith, and defiled themselves with idolatry, persuade them to separate themselves from those bishops, assuring them that the people being holy, religious, fearing God, and obeying his laws, may and ought to separate themselves from impious and wicked bishops, and not to communicate with them in the matters of God's service; 'Quando ipso plebs maxime habeat potestatem, vel eligendi dignos sacerdotes, vel indignos recusaudi;' that is, 'Seeing the people hath authority to choose the worthy, and to refuse the unworthy.' And Occam, to the same purpose, saith in this sort; 'Si papa et maxime celebres episcopi incidant in haeresin, ad Catholicos devoluta est potestas omnis judicandi;' 'If the pope and the principal bishops of the Christian world do fall into heresy, the power of all ecclesiastical judgment is devolved to the [37/38] inferior clergy, and people, remaining Catholic.' This opinion of Cyprian and the rest, if our adversaries shall dislike or except against, may easily be confirmed by demonstration of reason. For if it do fall out, that the bishops and a great part of the people fall into error, heresy, and superstition, I think our adversaries will not deny but that the rest are bound to maintain and uphold the ancient verity; who being not so many nor so mighty as to be able to eject those wicked ones by a formal course of judicial proceeding, what other thing is there left unto them, but either to consent to their impieties, which they may not do, or to separate themselves, which is the thing our adversaries except against in the people of our time. Now, having separated themselves from their former supposed and pretended pastors, what remaineth but that they make choice of new to be ordained and set over them; if not by the concurrence of such and so many as the strictness of the canon doth ordinarily require to concur in ordinations, yet by such as, in cases of necessity, by all rules of equity are warranted to perform the same."

The calm, solid thinking of Field, however, was not in harmony with the new spirit. England was becoming fast an ecclesiastical battle field. The Puritans made their onslaught more furious after the accession of James and the futile conference at Hampton Court. The Churchmen were not a whit behind them. But the Episcopal question took on its new phase: and the Churchmen advocated the doctrine that there are three distinct orders in the Church of Christ. After Bancroft this was the position of the great majority of Churchmen. Bishops Andrewes and Bilson expressed the prevailing sentiment. Andrewes contended that the Episcopate was of apostolic, and so of divine appointment. This has been the fatal non-sequitur of English apologists, for the most part, ever since. Andrewes was not only a learned man, however, but he was endowed with a large-hearted, generous nature. And while maintaining the divine right of Episcopacy, he says "it doth not follow from thence that there is not salvation without it or that a Church cannot consist without it. He is blind who does not see Churches consisting without it; he is hard-hearted who denieth them salvation." This is quoted by the learned Bramhall who adds "This mistake (i.e., of those who supposed that the claim of the apostolic institution led to the unchurching of non-Episcopalians) proceedeth from not distinguishing between the true nature and essence of a Church, which we do readily grant them, and the integrity or perfection of a Church which we cannot grant them without swerving from the judgment of the Catholic Church." But I must not anticipate.

I think it will be conceded that Andrewes represents the best of the new school of departure, and what he thought seems to have been the reigning principle among Churchmen, until the epoch-making career of Archbishop Laud.

Laud advanced a step further than his predecessors. He made a new claim in behalf of Episcopacy. I make no comment upon his exegesis. In his speech, in answer to Lord Say he puts the case as follows: "First our Saviour Himself chose twelve apostles out of the whole number of His disciples and made them bishops, and advanced over the presbyters and all other believing Christians and gave them the name of bishops as well as of apostles; as appears, since that name was given even to Judas as well as to the other apostles, since Matthias was chosen by God Himself both into the bishopric and apostleship of [38/39] Judas."...."And so the institution of Christ Himself (for so by this Lord's leave I shall ever take Episcopacy to be) is made but a human device to avoid schism." (Answer to the Lord Say's speech against the Bishops. Oxford, 1840, p. 195-198.)

It was not by such reasoning as this that Laud wrecked the Church of England. It might have passed unnoticed had he not used his heavy hand with such ferocity against the swarming crowds of Puritans. I detest his policy and administration. Yet these two things must be said of him--he was a patron of letters and of the arts, and he died on the scaffold like a man and hero!

He made this claim nevertheless, and it is important because it was not allowed to die with him. It was continued by Jeremy Taylor, Sanderson and the bulk of the Carolinian divines. I am impressed with one thing, however. Laud in claiming our Lord as the creator of the Episcopate does not, as is his custom, whensoever he can--appeal to the unbroken tradition of the Church in support of his position. And Bishop Sanderson, acute, learned and of a rigorously logical habit uses this significant phrase: "Nevertheless leaving other men to the liberty of their own judgments, my opinion is that Episcopal government is not to be derived merely from apostolical practice or institution, but that it is originally founded in the person and office of the Messias, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ." (Sanderson, Works, Vol. V., p. 191, Oxford, 1855). Bishop Sanderson argues very briefly for his proposition, without an appeal to tradition. This surely should be noticed by every scholar. It is especially significant, because both Laud and Sanderson seem to have felt that they were arguing for a personal opinion and nothing more. What they thought, nevertheless, was the fashion of their generation, and it lasted, so far as the dominant party of Churchmen was concerned, until the revolution of 1688, and it survived among the non-jurors. The divine right of kings and bishops became a sort of battle cry of the party of a lost cause down far into the Eighteenth Century. (I find a curious illustration of this in a letter addressed to the Bishop of London, June 22d, 1724, from the Rev. Mr. Harris (Boston, Mass.)--"a Mr. John Checkley--who keeps a toy-shop," etc., "having some acquaintance with Mr. Timothy Cutler, then a dissenting minister in the neighboring province of Connecticut, he plied him with such irresistible arguments as compelled him to declare for the Church of England upon Jacobite principles," etc., etc. Perry's Historical Collections, Massachusetts. p. 157.)

It is not at all necessary to follow the course of the non-jurors. It is a lost stream though strong men in their day floated on it. One cannot forget men like Collier, Dodwell, Law and others. Law's second letter to the Bishop of Bangor is one of the ablest of all the contributions to the theory of the divine institution of Episcopacy. It is, in my judgment, utterly untenable, but the style is sharp, incisive, sometimes brilliant and fiery.

We must go back, however, to the main stream. After the Revolution of 1688, the Latitudinarians became the fashion. But in the earlier part of the Eighteenth Century, in Queen Anne's time, there were high Churchmen who had not lost their Protestantism. Nicholls, Bingham, Waterland must always remain distinguished in the literature of the Church of England. They were the learned advocates of a moderate Episcopacy. They stood upon the theory of its apostolic institution, and declared its divine authority, according to the usual method. The [39/40] non-jurors were in sympathy with Laud, and the moderate divines were not, and these gave the tone to the Church until the beginning of the memorable movement in Oxford fifty years ago.

The state of opinion in England at that day can easily be inferred from the anger, the consternation and even the panic produced by the Tracts for the Times. The writers of these tracts deluged the Church with their opinions and beliefs respecting the ministry, its constitution, the Episcopate and the Sacraments. Events prove that they themselves were on a voyage of discovery. Step by step they went on, the clamor around them ever growing louder, until it became clear that they were marching towards Rome, not as conquerors indeed, but as suppliants and subjects. They brought the question of the Episcopate under the form of "the Apostolic Commission," and "the Apostolic Succession" to the fore front. They pressed it as it had not been pressed since the days of Laud, and after him, of the non-jurors. It was in these that they found the best exponents of the position of the Anglican Church. It cannot be said that they contributed anything new towards the solution of the "Episcopal" question. The arguments by which they maintained the jus divinum of the Episcopate were not a whit stronger than Law's for example. They published one Tract however (No. 74), which deserves notice. It is entitled "Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the Doctrine of the Apostolical Succession." It contains extracts from the writings of forty-three English theologians, the first being Bilson who died in 1616, and the last Mant who died in 1848. In the entire list there are but four Archbishops of Canterbury (Bancroft, Laud, Wake and Potter). There are very many non-jurors, some very distinguished typical Anglicans and others of no great note or weight. Taken as a whole, it must be said that the "Catena" is very colorless. The statements for the most part are very general, and much is said about the succession which even any conservative Presbyterian would admit. There is but little sharpness of outline. I fancy that no man seeking facts touching the exclusive authority, by divine appointment, of bishops to ordain, would or could find much to convince or satisfy him; standing as it does, however, it is something of a curiosity. In the meanwhile it neither retarded nor hastened the movement towards the re-assertion of the doctrine of the "Ecclesia in Episcopo." It is very hard to give a mere provincial or national application to this phrase. Nevertheless, after many long years, after the catastrophe of Newman's secession to Rome and the dejection it caused among all who had followed him to the very brink of the precipice, this doctrine that there can be no Church without a bishop is held probably by a majority of the clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this country. I cannot tell how the case, in respect of members, stands with the clergy of the Church of England.

I have said nothing thus far of our own Church; nor was it necessary. It is known that we started at the time of our organization with two distinct and antagonistic conceptions of the constitution of the Christian ministry. Bishop Seabury has a passage in his sermon on the Eucharist which is almost a transcript of a decree of the Council of Trent (see Seabury's Sermon; Vol. I., p. 156-7, Hudson 1815; Comp. Sessio XXII.; Cap. I., Decretum de Sacrificio Missae). Yet he hated what he called Popery. This is quite sufficient to show his position: and on the other hand, Bishop White may be called a Tillotsonian. Neither of them impressed his type of thinking upon the Church at large. Hobart [40/41] became the accredited leader of what was the very high Church party, and Onderdonk's "Episcopacy tested by Scripture" had, for a while, a larger influence than any tract ever written by an American Episcopalian. It was, however, only moderately high Church, and has the flavor of the 18th Century. Since the so-called "Catholic" revival, Seabury's name is heard as never before, but I am not aware that his works are read. His name, however, stands to-day for a great deal.

I must here conclude. This note makes clear, I think, that the following theories of the episcopate have been entertained in the Church:

1. The old scholastic theory that the order of presbyters and bishops is one; that they differ "gradu" not "in ordine."

This was maintained from the reformation (Cranmer, Hooper, Jewel, Pilkington, etc.), until the beginning of the 17th Century. It was maintained by Field and after him by Usher and others.

2. The theory that presbyters and bishops are distinct orders, made such:

(a) By Apostolic appointment, the apostles acting under divine direction. (Bancroft, Andrewes and other Jacobean theologians.) These did not unchurch non-Episcopal communities. The position of Hooker has been stated in the body of this note.

(b) By the ordering of Christ himself. (Laud, Taylor, Sanderson, the majority of the Carolinian divines and the non-jurors.) The unchurching of non-Episcopal communities comes chiefly from this source.

(c) By Apostolic appointment, by the theologians who shaped public opinion after the Revolution of 1688, down to the time of the movement begun in Oxford, 1833. Variations are to be found. The greatest men of the 18th Century, especially Berkeley and Butler, seem to have cared but little for the question. So it may be said that after the Revolution, which drove the Stuarts from the throne, there was a return to an earlier doctrine. The moderate theologians did not press any inference that led to the unchurching of non-Episcopalians.

(d) The revival of the doctrine of "no church without a bishop."

(e) The new critical methods of studying the question must be mentioned, but not discussed now (Whately, Arnold, Litton, Hatch, Lightfoot, etc., etc.).

It is very clear, still further:

1. That the doctrine that presbyters and bishops are one order in the Church is a private opinion.

2. That the belief that the apostles, acting under divine appointment, instituted the Episcopate is a private opinion.

3. That the belief that the apostles instituted the Episcopate, without any special divine guidance, is a private opinion.

4. That the belief that our Lord Himself instituted the Episcopate is a private opinion.

5. That the doctrine of "Ecclesia in Episcopo" is a private opinion.

What then is the public law and fact in the matter? Simply this, that this Church preserves, maintains and enforces the immemorial usage of the Church of Christ, and admits no man to the exercise of the sacred ministry who has not been ordained by a bishop. It passes no judgment upon what others may allow and practise. And this conclusion acquires additional force from the consideration that Archbishop Crammer wrote the Preface to the Ordinal.

It must be confessed, however, that English theologians are very uncertain. Let any man study them upon any great subject, and he will not wonder at the sharp strictures and keen irony of Newman in the [41/42] well-known passage, "A man who can set down half a dozen general propositions which escape from destroying one another only by being diluted into truisms,....who holds that Scripture is the only authority, yet that the Church is to be deferred to, that faith only justifies, yet that it does not justify without works, that grace does not depend on the Sacraments, yet it is not given without them, that bishops are a divine ordinance, yet those who have them not are in the same religious condition as those who have--this is your safe man and the hope of the Church."

Here I leave this matter to the judgment of candid men. I have sought the truth and have not desired to irritate any one into whose hands this paper may fall. We have heard lately that this is a closed topic! Pray, will any one tell me what is closed? How was it closed? When was it closed? Who closed it? It is not a closed, but a very open topic.

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