IN the acknowledged facts that all the Churches existing at the present day, which have a history reaching back of the Reformation through the middle ages to primitive times, are Episcopal in their polity; that all the Churches in the world, at the beginning of the Reformation, were Episcopal and had always been so, so far as known; that from within less than fifty years after the Apostles, Episcopacy is found in universal prevalence, there being no notice in any writer, or trace in history, of any other form of government, so that from this time onwards even the Sects, heretical and orthodox, that divided from the Church, were invariably headed by Bishops and preserved Episcopacy: the Sabellians, the Novatians, the Donatists, the Arians of various types, being all unquestionably Episcopal; in these undeniable facts there is the strongest presumption that the Apostles left the Church with such a polity, and that from its foundation by Christ and through the Apostolic age it was essentially the same. The inference is as legitimate as any inference can be from historic facts, that because of the general prevalence of Episcopacy [99/100] from the time the Church appears as a power in the world, it must be Apostolic, Scriptural, and Divine. We have a right now to assume this as proved. At any rate, the presumption is so strong for the truth of the clear statement of the Preface to the Ordinal, that the burden of proof is thrown upon those who deny it. Let them marshal their facts from Scripture history. Let them show, from something more tangible than theories derived from modern systems of Church Government, that the Church was not Episcopal in the Apostles' times, but, on the contrary, the Ministry existed in one order only, all Ministers being Presbyters and essentially of equal rank. It will be time enough then to account for the supposed change from parity to the threefold order. Till then we might rest in the confident assurance that Episcopacy is Apostolic and from the beginning.
But the opponents of Episcopacy have never been able to do what they are logically required to do. Their arguments from Scripture are theoretical. They propose to show what might have been, and therefore probably was. Ignoring utterly the fact that the Apostles were an order of Ministers, they begin with the assumption of a parity, a single order in the Ministry, and waste their strength and learning in the vain effort to show how the facts, that are alleged against them, can be made to admit of a possible reconcilement with their theory. We may pardon them for taking this singular course for the confession involved in it, that it is [100/101] the only course left to them. If the facts were on their side, surely they could not be content with theories.
But I do not propose to rest in the presumption thus created, strong and convincing as it is, of the original institution of Episcopal government for the Church of Christ. I shall carry the argument for Episcopacy back of the second century into the Apostolic age, and I hope to be able to so present it as to carry conviction to all dispassionate and candid minds.
Let me first premise a word as to the nature of the proof we are to look for in Scripture of a matter of fact like that which is before us. Some people seem to think that the Scriptures were given to the early believers in Christ, to direct them in the organization of themselves into a Church, and that there was no Church until after the New Testament was given. Finding in the Scriptures the idea of a Church, they made haste to organize themselves in accordance with this idea, with a Ministry and government such as seems to be required. Thus in modern times Churches have occasionally been constructed. A number of Christian men, A, B, C, and D, with their associates, decide that there is no Scriptural Church in existence. They accordingly withdraw from the Churches with which they have been connected. They take the New Testament as their Constitution. They frame a Society upon the basis of what they conceive to be its teachings. They proceed to set apart certain of their [101/102] number as their Ministers. These are ordained by themselves or by those who were Ministers in the bodies from which they have seceded. Baptist Churches were begun with persons unbaptized on their hypothesis, and took the same course in setting up their organization and Ministry. They determine by vote upon a confession of faith, or the Bible as such confession, which is made to constitute their so-called Creed. Then they assume that they have a Church which is Scriptural, Primitive and Apostolic; and he that shall dare to say that such a Society is not the Church of Christ is stigmatized for his want of "charity" and adjudged to be so bigoted as to be worthy of the Inquisition!
But that the first Christians formed the Church in this manner, or that it is now a legitimate proceeding to do so, is a theory as shallow and preposterous as it is mischievous and false. If the "gates of hell" had prevailed against "the Church," and the promise of Christ, "Lo, I am with you alway," had not been made good in the perpetuation of the Apostolate, there might be some excuse for Christian men--if there could be any Christians left on the hypothesis--to form on the basis of what they could find in Scripture, a Society as nearly like the Church of the New Testament as possible, for the purposes for which the Church was founded. But even then, so far as we can see, the Church of Christ, supposing it lost, could be framed anew and reconstructed only by its Divine [102/103] Founder. The Church of Christ can be founded only by Christ. No institution but that which He established in the world can be, strictly speaking, the Church of Christ.
Now, it can not be questioned that this institution existed a considerable time in wonderful life and vigor, before the books of the New Testament, or any of them, had been written. The Scriptures were given to the Church by Ministers of the Church, having already its Ministry and Faith, Rites, Sacraments, Worship and Polity.
It is absurd, therefore, to suppose that they were given for a purpose that had already for a quarter of a century or more been effected. You will search in vain in the New Testament to find a formal statement of what was to be the Church's Constitution, and what were to be the grades of its Ministry. The New Testament Scriptures might conceivably never have been written; some other mode of authoritative teaching might have been provided--still the Church would have continued all the same, with its divinely revealed doctrine and its original polity and orders of Ministry and Sacraments, which would have been binding upon all Christians and might have handed on and promulgated the same Faith for the salvation of the world.
How, then, shall we prove Episcopacy from Scripture? Just as we prove infant baptism, or the religious observance of the Lord's day. Nobody could expect to find it explicitly commanded that infants should be baptized, [103/104] or that Sunday should be observed in addition to, and afterwards in place of, the Jewish Sabbath. We are content to find that the command to baptize all nations did not except any by reason of age, and that families and households were received by baptism into the Covenant of Grace; and that the first day of the week was observed by assembling for worship, for the breaking of bread in the Holy Communion, for "laying by in store" as God had given ability, for being "in the Spirit" as on "the Lord's day." We rightly infer the Apostolic Institution and the Divine intention from these incidental notices. If these notices had been wanting, still the observances would have continued to prevail, and we might have alleged for them as now the authority of Christ or of His Apostles. The universal practice of the Church would have been sufficient evidence that they were divinely instituted or intended; for their general prevalence some time after the Apostles could only be accounted for by Apostolic sanction or institution. Who else but Apostles could have given them such prestige and authority that in the second and following centuries their observance should have been general?
So with Episcopacy. We are not to search the writings of the Apostles for an unequivocal injunction of Episcopal government. The utmost to be expected in the nature of the case is to find statements of facts and incidental allusions which clearly suppose the Ministry in three orders as already existing.
 It was necessary to make this explanation of the nature of the evidence that is now to be laid before you, to enable you to appreciate it in its true character. I shall reverse the order in which the argument is usually presented, and shall proceed by sure steps from the beginning of the first century, when the Apostle St. John had lately been called from the earthly exercise of his office, back through the times when the Apostles were living, to Christ Himself, the fountain-head of all Ministerial powers.
It is impossible altogether to disconnect Historical from Scriptural evidence.
It is the uniform testimony of the Early Church that when the career of the Apostles was nearly terminated, and they knew that the time of their departure was at hand, "they in no case left their peculiar powers to Presbyters or Presbyter-Bishops or to local congregations, but assigned Timothy to Ephesus, Titus to Crete, Linus, Cletus and Clement to Rome, Symeon to Jerusalem, after the death of James, Evodius and Ignatius to Antioch, Polycarp to Smyrna, Annianus to Alexandria, and others of their companions to other places, and gave to them all the supervisory powers of the Apostolic office." [Mahan. Church History, p. 71.] There is no reason to question this testimony. They who gave it must have known whereof they affirmed. In every [105/106] instance it is perfectly consonant with known facts or trustworthy tradition. Ignatius had been appointed and commissioned Bishop of Antioch by the three chief Apostles. [Mahan, p. 102.] In A. D. 68 he succeeded Evodius as Bishop of Antioch, [Mahan, p. 106.] where he continued to exercise his Apostolic office until in A. D. 107 he was condemned by the Emperor Trajan to be thrown to the wild beasts at Rome. On his way thither he wrote seven Epistles to different Churches, which, in the shorter version are now acknowledged by all competent scholars to be genuine. This was long disputed, doubtless because of "his championship of the exclusive claims of the Episcopacy," as Dr. Schaff and others charge. But Bishop Lightfoot, in his recent great work on the Ignatian Epistles, in which he retracts certain views of the Ministry he had advocated in one of his learned dissertations appended to his Commentary on the Epistles to the Philippians, afterwards published in this country in a small volume and widely circulated, has said the last word on the subject, proving beyond possibility of further question that these seven Epistles are the undoubted writings of this eminent Bishop, Saint and Martyr. His testimony to the fact and prevalence of Episcopacy is sufficiently decisive. [See the translations in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library.]
St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, the third after SS. Paul and Peter, belongs to the first century. St. Paul speaks [106/107] of him as one of his "fellow laborers whose names are in the Book of Life." (Phil, iv, 3.) His Epistle to the Corinthians, written in A. D. 68, at latest 97, was long so highly esteemed that it was read in many Churches as Scripture. "He refers to the sacerdotal analogy of High Priests, Priests and Levites, to the military analogy of Prefects, Chiliarchs and Centurions, and shows incidentally, and therefore the more powerfully, that the principle of subordination or prelacy was acknowledged in the Ministry. In the same incidental way he mentions Rulers and Presbyters in one place, and Bishops and Deacons in another, and testifies that the order of succession was settled by Divine Providence and by Apostolic Authority." [Mahan, p. 73.] It was towards the close of the first century that the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine was written. In the second and third chapters there are seven Epistles to the Angels of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. The meaning of "Angel" is "Messenger," which is also the meaning of "Apostle." These Angels are held responsible for the spiritual condition of the Churches over which they had charge and oversight. From the Epistles themselves it is clear that they held in these Churches Apostolic or Episcopal authority. It is as the Bishops of these Churches that they are reproved or commended. Accordingly it was held by all the writers, commentators, historians of the Ancient Church that they were Bishops, and there is [107/108] hardly a good interpreter of Scriptures of modern times who is not in agreement with the ancients. [Timlow's Plain Footprints, Chap. IX.]
We are now on Scripture ground. We bring Scripture evidence to confirm that given by men who lived in the Apostles' times. Let any one read these seven Epistles, intelligently and without prejudice, and he will see that no other hypothesis than that the Angels of the Seven Churches were the Bishops of those Churches is possible. The powers of oversight, discipline, government, are confessedly Episcopal. We are assured by unimpeachable tradition that Poly carp was one of these Angel Bishops, the Bishop of Smyrna. In the same way the names of others are known. The evidence is so strong that Mosheim, Gieseler, Schaff, and others of the higher class of non-Episcopal historians concede the fact of the prevalence of Episcopacy in the later years of St. John's ministry.
We now go back thirty or forty years to the times of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul. We come first to his Epistles to Timothy and Titus. The superscription to the second Epistle to Timothy informs us that he was "ordained the first Bishop of the Church of the Ephesians," and that to the Epistle to Titus declares that he was "ordained the first Bishop of the Church of the Cretans." These superscriptions are not a part of the Epistles; they were subsequently added. But they [108/109] are historical statements showing the unanimous judgment of the Primitive Church as to the rank and position of these Ministers of Christ. They areas trustworthy as the like witness to the fact that St. Paul wrote these Epistles. There is no reason to question their testimony. Let us examine the Epistles. The internal evidence will be found to corroborate the appended statements certifying that Timothy and Titus were Bishops, which have been deemed worthy of their place in our Bibles. In the Tubingen school and its manifold and contradictory survivals, the genuineness of these Epistles is denied. The chief motive to such denial is found in the fact that Episcopal government is so fully developed in them, and hence they could not have been written until after St. Ignatius in. the second century!
Ephesus had, some time before the Epistles to Timothy were written, several local congregations or Churches with their many Elders or Presbyter-Bishops and Deacons. St. Paul, according to the twentieth chapter of the Acts, had called to him these Bishops or Elders, and with many tears had charged them to be faithful, and had taken his farewell leave of them. If you examine his discourse to them you will see that they were Ministers of Congregations. They were to feed and rule and oversee the Flock of Christ in that city, and to be watchful against the rise of heresies. Their powers have reference to the laity. There is clearly no one among them in St. Paul's absence, [109/110] to hold an oversight and governing power over them as clergy. Accordingly, some five years later (Bp. Wordsworth, seven to nine years) St. Paul sends to them Timothy, who is also called an Apostle, (1 Thes. i, 1; ii, 6) to fulfil at Ephesus these Apostolic functions. Read the two Epistles and you cannot but see how explicitly the right of ordaining, governing, disciplining the clergy is ascribed to him. They are, evidently, Episcopal charges. Timothy is to receive accusations against Elders, but only befoi'e two or three witnesses. He is to allow none of them to teach false doctrine. He is to settle the qualifications of such as were to be admitted to the order of Presbyter-Bishops or Elders, and of Deacons. He is himself to ordain Ministers, and generally to set in order the things that are wanting. These Apostolic powers are expressly said to have been conferred upon him by the laying on of St. Paul's hands (2 Tim. i, 6), with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery (1 Tim. iv, 14). Note the prepositions: dia, by, expressing cause; Meta, with, expressing association. If the Presbyters mean those who assisted St. Paul in the ordination it is possible that some of the Apostles, as St. Peter and St. John were members of it. It is then a precedent for the universal practice of three or more Bishops uniting in the consecration of a Bishop. If it was a body of Presbyters only, it is in accordance with the ancient practice preserved among us at the present day, of Presbyters assisting the Bishops in the imposition [110/111] of hands in ordaining Presbyters. Whatever it means, it is by the Apostles' hands that Timothy was admitted to the Apostolic Order.
Now consider what were the powers which Titus was commissioned to exercise in the Island of Crete, as seen in the charge the Apostle gives him; power to admonish (i, 13); to degrade or excommunicate (iii, 10); power to ordain Elders or Presbyter-Bishops (i, 5); authority over the laity as well as the clergy (ii, 2-11). To him St. Paul lays down the qualifications of the Presbyters, that he may know whom to ordain and whom to discipline. His credentials are clear. "For this cause left I thee in Crete that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every city as I had appointed thee" (i, 5).
Now, I appeal to any one who has carefully read these Epistles to tell me if it be not perfectly clear that Timothy and Titus are charged and expected to exercise higher powers and functions than those could do to whom they are sent. Are they not Bishops in the Ecclesiatical sense? Are they not Apostles in the Scripture sense? Do they not stand in the place of St. Paul and perform Apostolic functions? Have they not Apostolic prerogatives? I care not by what name you call them. It is well known that "Bishop" is applied to Presbyters in the New Testament, that "Elder" is applied to Apostles (1 Peter v, 1); that "Deacon" is sometimes used of both the higher Orders. [111/112] The early Fathers unite in the testimony that "Apostle" was at first the name of the higher order, and Bishop, Presbyter or Elder the title of the second, but that after the death of the original Apostles their successors assumed the humbler name of Bishops. [Bingham's Antiquities, Book II, C. I, Sec. 3] They were content to be known as "Secondary Apostles," and "successors of the Apostles," and as having their Sees designated as "Apostolic Sees." [Bingham, B. II, C. II, Sec. 3.]
We are not contending about names. The question is this: Did not Timothy and Titus have in the Churches they were sent to, the power to ordain, to oversee, to rule, to discipline the clergy? This must be admitted. But did not other Ministers in these Churches have the same prerogatives? If this were so, then why were these colleagues of St. Paul sent and placed over them? They must have been sent upon a superfluous, more than this, an impossible Ministry. If the Churches of Ephesus and of Crete were organized on the basis of those which in modern times are not Episcopal, neither Timothy nor Titus could have fulfilled his office. They would have been intruders. They would have been regarded as usurping functions which belonged to others. There would have been no place for them. Instead of being welcomed they would have been repelled and warned to go elsewhere. For, suppose the Churches were Congregationalist, all [112/113] power of ordaining, discipline, etc., being in the separate Congregations, what reception would have been accorded to such extraordinary Ministers, arrogating to themselves the exclusive exercise of powers and rights belonging only to the Congregations? Would not the Christian people have said to them: We have not elected you. We have not called nor ordained you. We can ordain for ourselves our own Ministers. We can administer discipline and take care of our own affairs. We want no intermeddling. We will have no prelates among us to lord it over God's heritage!
Suppose these Churches had been constituted according to the scheme which vests all Ministerial power in the Presbyters (Presbyter-Bishops), the mission of Timothy would have been exactly parallel to the sending of a Bishop to take the oversight, to ordain Ministers, to administer discipline and generally to set things in order, in a modern Presbytery. Would he be received? Not, assuredly, unless he consented to give up his "prelatical claims" for the exclusive exercise of which he was commissioned. Timothy and Titus would doubtless have received this answer: If you will unite with us as equals, we shall be glad to have you with us. You may join with us in ordaining, ruling, admonishing, after you have gained some experience and become acquainted with our methods. We will welcome you as a fellow-helper and gladly settle you over one of our Congregations. But we [113/114] have no place for any pretended successors of the Apostles, We will tolerate no prelatical assumptions. These you must give up, or we shall be compelled to dispense with your services. Timothy and Titus would have been constrained to depart with the conclusion that St. Paul must have forgotten that the Churches he had founded were Presbyterian! [ Dr. D. R. Goodwin's Sermon on the Christian Ministry.]
We come now to the inquiry: What Ministers were in the Church, and who had the power of ordaining and general supervision during the period covered by the Acts of the Apostles. That the Apostles were a higher order of Ministers than Presbyters (Presbyter-Bishops) and Deacons, is generally conceded. "God hath set in the Church first, Apostles; secondarily, Prophets; thirdly, Teachers." (1 Cor. xii, 28.) And again it is asked, Are all Apostles, are all Prophets, are all Teachers? (v, 29). So Apostles and Elders (Acts xv, 23; xvi, 4), Apostles wad Elders and brethren (or Elders brethren), Bishops and Deacons, are spoken of. The orders are plainly distinguished; there are different grades, or language would be meaningless.
The Chief of the Apostles from the time of his call, is evidently St. Paul. If St. Matthias, who was elected to fill the place of Judas, was an Apostle and did fill that place, as is undoubtedly the fact, St. Paul was the thirteenth Apostle. Among the strange curiosities of interpretation found among people whose prepossessions [114/115] will not permit them to see facts as they are, is the notion, dogmatically held for truth, that, as there could be but twelve Apostles and therefore there could be no successors to any of the twelve, the eleven, under the instigation of the impulsive Peter, made a great mistake in choosing Matthias, and consequently he is never again heard of, the Divine intention being that St. Paul was to take Judas' place and be one of the twelve. [Timlow, Chap. VI.] The vain effort to explain away a plain fact, for if it was a mistake it was never subsequently rectified after the Holy Ghost was given, shows to what desperate straits great writers are reduced under the strongly-felt and evident necessity to their cause of getting rid of the evidence of the extension of the Apostolate. But no such assertions under the exigencies of controversy charging upon the Apostles a blunder, have sufficed to put the Apostle Matthias out of the way, nor to nullify the evidence that St. Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, was additional to the twelve. We see in his case what we know to have been true of St. Peter and St. John, and was doubtless true in the case of all, that the Apostles gradually associated with themselves a number of companions, yoke-fellows, colleagues, fellow-laborers, who are also sometimes called Apostles or Messengers of the Churches. They sustained to their Principals a like relation to that of Joshua to Moses, Elisha to Elijah, the Sons of the Prophets to the [115/116] Prophets themselves, or the twelve to our Lord during His Ministry. They were clearly in training to be the Apostles' "successors;" they are endowed with special gifts and functions; they are personally acquainted with the Apostles' "doctrine, purpose, and manner of life;" they are in one sense their sons or disciples, in another their fellow-laborers, "yoke-fellows;" they were even sometimes designated by "prophesies going before" (1 Tim. i, 18; iv, 14) and are employed by trie Apostles in portions of their larger fields of labor. The names of some of them are associated with St. Paul in the superscription of Epistles. Barnabas, Timothy, Silas or Silvanus, Andronicus Junias, Epaphroditus and others are called in the Greek text, Apostles. They were at first Bishops at large, Missionary Bishops. In due time they will be appointed to separate Jurisdictions. Thus, as we have seen, Timothy became Bishop of Ephesus and Titus of Crete. There are others also, such as Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesinius, Carpus, Crescens, Erastus, to whom well-founded tradition or history assigns the name and character of Bishops, and who, in like manner, became Bishops of Churches. Thus Epaphroditus, according to early writers, was Bishop of Philippi, and St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians gives evidence of this fact. (Phil, ii, 25. "Messenger" = "Apostle.")
An argument has been made for two orders only at Philippi, as in other places, because St. Paul addresses the Epistle to the Bishops (Presbyter-Bishops) and Deacons [116/117] with the brethren (Phil, i, 1). This is just about as conclusive as if it were contended that before the Revolution there was but one order recognized in the Episcopal Church in the American colonies; for, in fact, there were only Presbyters. The reason of this, however, is not far to seek. The English Government would not allow us to have Bishops for fear of offending dissenters, and every man who went to England for ordination was ordained Priest as well as Deacon to save him the peril and expense of a second journey. Suppose it true that at the time St-Paul wrote to the Philippians there were but Presbyter-Bishops and Deacons in that colony, was not St. Paul still their Apostle? Was he not, in writing them, fulfilling his Episcopal office? And could he not appoint for them another to take his place when he should find that he could no longer hold jurisdiction over them? So he had actually made Epaphroditus their Bishop, who was with him when he wrote the Epistle, who had come to him as the bearer of charitable collections he had made in his Diocese (iv, 14-18.). The Epistle was not directed to Epaphroditus with his clergy, because he was the person who carried it. His character and rank are clearly indicated when St. Paul writes: "I thought it necessary to send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor and fellow soldier, but your Apostle" (ii, 25). Thus he is made Apostle-Bishop of Philippi, just as Timothy was afterwards of Ephesus and Titus of Crete. And analogy [117/118] leads to the conclusion that it was the same of the other Apostolic colleagues. And this is abundantly confirmed by early tradition and patristic testimony.
But what was there, it will be asked, that Apostles could do that Presbyters could not also do? Is there an inherent, essential difference between them? What has been already said indicates a difference. The work of Presbyters Was local and was related to the brethren. The work of the Apostles was general, supervisory, disciplinary. But there was one great difference which needs special statement and proof. The Apostles were the only Ministers who received the power of Ordination and of Confirmation. It is they, and they only, to whom is ever attributed the laying on of hands. There are various examples of Apostles ordaining and confirming. (2 Tim. i, G. Acts vi, 6; viii, 17; xiv, 23, etc.) There is not a solitary instance in which this power is exercised by Deacons or by Presbyter-Bishops or Elders. The only instance which has ever been alleged of ordination by Presbyters, except that already referred to of St. Timothy, which was by the laying on of St. Paul's hands with the assistance of the Presbytery, is that which is recorded in the first three verses of the thirteenth chapter of the Acts. But before this passage can be pressed into this service, several assumptions have to be made, as first: that it was an ordination; and second, that the ordainers were Presbyters; and third, that it was to the Presbyterate. Bishop Onderdonk, in "Episcopacy Tested by Scripture," is [118/119] believed to have proved that it was not an ordination, but only a setting apart to a particular mission, and a benediction upon those thus separated for "the work which they fulfilled" (xiv, 26). The facts are these: Five persons at Antioch, who are Ministers, as they are called "prophets and teachers," of whom St. Barnabas is one and St. Paul is another, are directed by the Holy Ghost to set apart these two for the work whereunto He had called them. Accordingly after fasting and prayer they receive from the others the laying on of hands, they proceed upon their mission, fulfill it, and return with their report to Antioch "whence they had been recommended to the Grace of God" (xiv, 26).
Now, if this was an ordination it must have been to the highest order, because, before it, the five brethren were all "prophets and teachers," and are said to have been "ministering to the Lord," and were therefore at least of as high an order as Presbyters. If it were an ordination it would have simply confirmed them in the Apostolate. For St. Paul certainly, and Barnabas probably, were already Apostles. St. Paul's Commission was given by the Lord Himself who appeared to him on the way to Damascus. And he again and again insists that he is "an Apostle not of men, neither by men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father" (Gal. i, 1; Rom. i, 1; 1 Cor. i, 1, etc). It could not have been an ordination to the second nor to the highest grade; not to the second unless Paul and Barnabas had [119/120] been only Deacons, which no one has ever pretended; nor to the highest unless they had been merely Presbyters before, which is contrary to St. Paul's assertion of himself, and too doubtful of Barnabas to be pretended. And, moreover, the rank of the three who are supposed to be the ordainers is altogether uncertain. For "prophets and teachers" does not indicate it. It would be most natural to suppose that they were of the same rank as Barnabas and Paul, that is, Apostles, for all the five were in consultation and "ministering to the Lord." In fact, they should be of the higher order, for how could they assume to ordain their equals or superiors in rank '? Thus it will be seen what insuperable difficulties there are in the passage if we regard it as the account of an ordination. In any case it is impossible to find in it an. ordination by Presbyters. We may say, therefore, without fear of contradiction, that none in Scriptures are found ordaining men to any order of Ministry except the Apostles. It is the same also of the Rite which we call Confirmation (Acts viii, 17; xix, 6).
We have seen that the Apostles who have general oversight of the Churches they planted, gradually superadd to the Presbyters (Presbyter-Bishops) and Deacons, a higher Order from their own fellow-laborers and companions, to whom they impart their own Apostolic authority and assign parts of their Episcopal Jurisdictions. The three Orders are, Apostles, Presbyter-Bishops or simply Elders, [120/121] and Deacons; Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus and others being classed as Apostles. In the second century, by a slight change of names, the same Orders are Bishops, Priests and Deacons, as they have ever since been known. [Bingham, Book II, Chap. II.] We shall find the model of this polity in the mother Church of Jerusalem. There is no historical fact better established than that James, the brother of our Lord, the author of the Epistle, called also James the Just, was the first Bishop of this oldest of the Churches. The testimony of antiquity is so unanimous and abundant that there are hardly any scholars who have the hardihood to deny it. The position accorded to him is decisive. He presides in the first Council, sums up the argument and issues the decree (Acts xv). St. Paul refers to him as a chief pillar of the Church (Gal. ii, 9). He is the one to whom Peter's deliverance is reported (Acts xii, 17), and to whom St. Paul resorts when he returns to Jerusalem (Acts xxi, 18). Thus this earliest of the Churches had its Diocesan Bishop, who, in all probability, is one of the twelve. [Bishop Lightfoot. Galatians, Dissertation II. Mahan's Works, Vol. III, "Who was James the Lord's Brother."] He presides over this Church for some thirty years, until his death. He is succeeded by Symeon, who is also a relative of Jesus. All through his long Episcopate this Church had under him its Presbyters. It had also its Deacons, chosen by the brethren, but ordained by the Apostles (Acts vi, 6). Every Church throughout [121/122] the world was framed after the model of this one. There is no change of plan, no variation of policy. In all the different countries whither the Gospel is carried, the Churches are the same in organization. Hence we account for the fact, otherwise utterly unaccountable, that all the Churches throughout the world in the early part of the second century and thence onward, were Episcopal and had the three Orders of Ministers of our Ordinal.
May we not now go back a little farther and find the model on which the Church of Jerusalem was framed? The great Apostle-Bishop, to whom all power is committed, ordains the Twelve and sends them forth, as He had been sent by the Father, and promises to be with them, not, of course, personally, for they must, in the course of nature, yield their places to their successors. To be with them must mean, as Apostles, to be with their Order, to be with them in their successors, guaranteeing their continuance "alway, even unto the end of the world," or dispensation. He had power to ordain; "as He was sent" assures to them the same power. For they must perpetuate their office and ordain inferior Ministers. If they were sent as Christ was sent, it follows of necessity that they can send others. This may be regarded as their ordination, that is, to the highest order. They had been first ordained to preach, to work miracles of mercy upon the bodies and souls of men. It was the power of the Diaconate (St. Mark iii, 14, 15; St. Luke vi, 13). Some time after, their commission was [122/123] enlarged (St. Mark vi, 7, 13; St. Luke ix, 1, 6). They were now to preach repentance and the Kingdom of God, and to have authority over devils, and accordingly they go "preaching the Gospel everywhere." This is the office of Presbyters. Soon after, the Seventy were appointed to the lowest grade, viz., to teach. Thus there were three Orders. Christ Himself, the first; the Twelve, the second; the Seventy, the third. After our Lord's Resurrection, and He had again "breathed on them and said, receive ye the Holy Ghost," etc., the Twelve, with Matthias, St. Paul, and the other Apostles, represent the highest Order, the Seventy the second. For some of these are known to have been Presbyters, and soon the seven Deacons are appointed. Thus, as in the Jewish Church, there were High Priests, Priests, and Levites, and not one order only; so in the Christian, there are Apostles or Bishops, and Priests, and Deacons.
In fact, the true origin of the Episcopate is in the Mission of Jesus Christ. I quote "the well-weighed words of Sanderson," one of the most illustrious Bishops since the Reformation: "My opinion is that Episcopal Government is not to be derived merely from Apostolic practice or institution, but that it is originally founded in the Person and Office of the Messiah, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, Who being sent by His Heavenly Father to be the great Apostle (Heb. iii, 1), Shepherd and Bishop (1 Pet. ii, 25) of His Church, and anointed to that office immediately after His Baptism [123/124] by John, with power and the Holy Ghost (Acts x, 37, 38) descending then upon Him in bodily shape (St. Luke iii, 22) did afterwards, before His Ascension into Heaven, send and empower His Holy Apostles, giving them the Holy Ghost likewise, as His Father had given Him. In like manner, as His Father had before sent Him (John xx, 21) to execute the same Apostolical, Episcopal and Pastoral office, for the ordering and governing of His Church until His coming again; and so the same office to continue in them and their successors unto the end of the world." (St. Matt, xxviii, 18-20.) [Works, Vol. V, p. 191; Liddon's "A Father in Christ,'" p. 12.]
Let us, in conclusion, gather up the scattered threads of the argument. We learn from SS. Ignatius and Clement, who belong to the first century and the Apostolic age, that Episcopacy was the recognized polity of the Church in their time, and they had never known any other. The seven Epistles to the Angels or Bishops of the Seven Churches in the Apocalypse are unquestionable proof of the same polity fully established, where St. John was, for many years, Chief Bishop and Metropolitan. The most Spiritual, as we may say, of the Apostles, is the one most solicitous to hand on the Apostolic Ministry. Some thirty years earlier Timothy and Titus were made Bishops of Ephesus and Crete by St. Paul, and this is clear not only from history but also from the powers intrusted, in his charges given them in his Epistles. Earlier still it scarcely [124/125] admits of question that Epaphroditus was by the same Apostle made Bishop of Philippi. We gather, moreover, from the Acts and the Epistles that the Apostles, especially St. Paul, had in training a number of assistants, whom they from time to time employed on Episcopal duty-Such were Epaphroditus, Timothy, Silas and others, whom they leave in charge of Churches that embraced many congregations, before they were called away by death, and that these are called Apostles, clearly indicating an enlargement and continuation of the Apostolic College. It is evident, moreover, that to this Apostolic order belonged exclusively the office of ordaining and confirming by the laying on of hands, and perpetuating the three Orders of the Ministry. Much earlier than this even, before the Apostles separate to carry the Gospel into all parts of the world, the order of the Church is fixed in Jerusalem, and the model formed for all future Churches, James, the Apostle (or a third James), being the Bishop, and feeding and ruling the Church, assisted by his many Presbyters and his Deacons. And going back still earlier, even to Christ Himself, we find Him the Chief Bishop and Pastor, having under Him the Twelve and the Seventy, calling the Twelve to His own place before His Ascension and instructing them "in the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God," and giving them all the powers necessary for their work as He had received all powers from the Father. Thus the Ministry to the whole world, inherent in His [125/126] Person and Office as the Messiah, is imparted to His Apostles, that they may hand it on and perpetuate it, giving such portions of their powers as they were taught by the Holy Ghost to do, to Presbyters and Deacons and the brethren. Thus the Church and Ministry is from above, not from below; of Jesus Christ, and not of man's election and contrivance.
Thus the conclusion is reached that from the time of Christ--in Pentecostal times, and ever after, in the Martyr ages--all through history there are these three Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church: Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The evidence is more than sufficient. It would not be possible with equal clearness to prove that Greece and Rome were ever Republics; that the nations of the East were Despotisms; that the Hebrew government was a Theocracy; or that England has always been a Monarchy. It is as clear in short as history, Ecclesiastical and Sacred, can make it, that the Church of Christ from the first and always is Episcopal.
There is a plain inference as to the duty of membership in this Divine Institution, but I will not now press it. I will only say that it is one of the mysteries of human conduct, how in a land of free inquiry, all do not learn the truth and act accordingly.