Lambeth-Chappel, Octob. 31.
Right Reverend Father in God,
Lord Bishop of St. ASAPH.
By Z. ISHAM, D.D. Prebendary of CANTERBURY.
LONDON,Printed by W.S. for Robert Clavel, at the Peacock, and Walter Kettilby at the Bishop's Head, in St. Paul's Church-yard, MDCCIV.
[Transcriber's note: Scriptural citations in margins and Greek texts in footnotes have been omitted for ease of reading the text.]
Most Reverend Father in God,
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury,
This PLAIN DISCOURSE,
Published by His Grace's Command,
Is with all Duty, and Humility,
Dedicated by the Author.
 I TIM. IV. 14.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by Prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.
I. THE Divine Apostle, the Bishop of our Souls, immediately before the choice of his twelve Apostles, went out into a mountain to pray, (though commanding all that could be pray'd for) and continued all night in prayer to God. By which Holy Retirement he intimated the extraordinary weight of the Apostolical Office; and gave his Church an Example of what was fit to be done at the Constitution of her Governors. Accordingly from the Primitive Ages this great Work hath been consecrated by most solemn Prayers; and the success of it hath ever been ascrib'd to the invoking of God as the Chief Ordainer. It was upon the Fasting, and Supplication of the Church, that the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas, and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them: And the Bishop in my Text (for so I may be allow;d to call him with the Ancient* [* Euseb. Hist. l. 3. c. 4. Hieron. de Script. Chrysost. H. I. in Ep. ad Phil. Theodoret in I. ad Tim.] Fathers) had unquestionably the Gift of God imparted to him by the same Preparatory Devotions. To him our Apostle transmits the Character of a true Bishop: [1/2] And we cannot doubt but he had those Vertues eminently in himself, which he was to look for, and reward in others. And therefore St. Paul having in his sacred Travels made a long abode at Ephesus, and taken a more particular Affection to that Church; he expresseth it by leaving his Son Timothy to preside over it: And because he was a young Governor, and might possibly be forced into this Chair (as many excellent Men have been) with modest Reluctancy; he sends (out of his tenderness) two admirable Epistles to encourage, and instruct him. Which being written occasionally for his use, but intended by God Spirit for lasting Directions, and Canonical Patterns to the Church; this comprehensive Exhortation may be proper to attend upon the present Solemnity, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.
II. In which Words we have four Points worthy of our consideration: 1st, the Designation of Timothy to the Episcopal Charge: 2dly, The Grace that was given to qualify him for it: 3dly, The manner of his Admission to it: And 4thly, His Duty in discharging it. First, We may consider the Designation of this Holy Man to the Episcopal Office: It was given thee by prophecy, or (as 'tis expres'd before) according to the prophecies which went before on thee: That is, the choice of the Spirit, publish'd by the Mouth of some Prophet, went before thy Consecration. And thus in those Days, the * [* (Greek text) Clem. Al. De divit. Sal. §. 42. Acts. 1. 26] Spirit manifestly over-rul'd these Elections; as Matthias, the Apostle was chosen [2/3] by a Divine Lot: And the Apostolical + [+Ep. ad Cor. §. 42.] Clement asserts, that the Apostles tried by the Spirit, such as were to be consecrated to the Service of the Church. And though since the ceasing of these miraculous Interpositions from above, the regular Call of the Church is sufficient; and includes the Supposition, that Men are inwardly mov'd by the Holy Ghost, and religiously prepar'd for the sincere, and vigilant discharge of their Duty: yet in this matter we may distinctly consider two Operations of the blessed Spirit, still continued in the Church. The first is, in directing secretly the choice of Persons well endow'd, and fitted for this Sacred Government. For in whatever hands this Trust is lodg'd, whether in the Bishops of the Province; (as anciently) or in the Clergy of the diocess; (as was usual too in the Primitive Days) or in Christian Princes; (who did frequently in old times assume this just Power to themselves) or in the Body of the People; (whose Zeal in nominating their Pastors was often complied with) still the Election of those that adorn this great Employment with suitable Qualifications, and by acting, or suffering gloriously for the Church, proceeds chiefly from the Spirit of God. 'Tis he that discovers the secret Treasure dispens'd by himself; and brings his own Gifts into publick light; and applies them to the end for which they were given; and inclines the Affections of Men to the raising of those in whom they shine. 'Tis he that defeats the profane Grasping of designing Men; and draws the humble of out the Recesses, to set them on the Episcopal Throne; though they hide themselves from the World, and tremble at the [3/4] thought of such an elevated Station. And so * [* Cont. Cels. p. ult.] Origen tells us, That in his time, Men that lov'd governing were not admitted; but they who out of Modesty declin'd it, were compell'd to govern the Churches.
III. Again, Secondly, the Spirit operates too upon the Man that is chosen to this difficult Employment, and by an inward Call obligeth him to undergo the troubles, and hazards of it; when otherwise he would say with Moses, Send, O Lord, by him whom thou wilt send; by one fitter, and not by me. There is a contrary Spirit in vain and aspiring Men, that love Preeminence (as Diotrephes) and exalt themselves to the Depression of the Church: And 'tis an unhallow'd Ambition to be fond of this Sacred Dignity, only for the Trappings of it; and after a second, and third Dedication to God, to forget the first, the renouncing of Secular Pomp. But if a man (saith our Apostle) desire (with no indirect aim) the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work; an opportunity of labouring for God, and not any worldly advantage. And certainly when it was a step to Martyrdom to be a Bishop, and the highest at the Altar were the first Victims to Pagan fury; when the Office was naked and persecuted, and these was no Wealth, or Splendor to compensate the Toils, and Perils of it; no Man could readily undertake it, but by Impulses from above. And in all Ages there is so much Work required to a conscientious discharge of this Administration; that when a good Man enters upon it with no sordid Prospect, with no wretched Promises to himself of Honour, and Dominion, and Ease, and Affluence; [4/5] but with a fervent earnestness to promote the Glory of God, and the Interest of his Church, and the Salvation of Souls; and with a firm Resolution to spend himself, or (if it be needful) to be sacrific'd in carrying on these ends; and with an humble hope, that God, who lays this burthen upon him, will strengthen him under it; he may truly be said to be excited hereunto by the Divine Spirit. Accordingly we are taught by our Church, that such a will, and ability is given by God alone; And in her Words we pray, That the holy Spirit may in all things direct, and rule our hearts: And if 'tis our felicity to be so directed, and by praying for it we may expect it; and how much more in the highest concern of the Church, in the advancing of Governors for it? And his Agency is equally kind, whether he Creates them as it were out of matter indispos'd; or finds them (as he did with our Apostle) previously adapted to their Work: though 'tis more evident, when their Endowments are suited to the difficulties of it; when Wisdom, and Learning, and Eloquence are the Preparatives to this Gift; and when the Graces of the Spirit are plac'd (as Jewels in a rich Cabinet) in a Mind nobly furnish'd by Nature.
IV. This Interposition of the Eternal Spirit will more clearly be evinc'd from the Second Point in my Text, the Grace that was bestow'd on Timothy, for the due Execution of his Charge: 'Tis called The Gift that is in thee; and therefore doth not probably mean the Holy Function it self; (though this too is a carisma, and is suppos'd by the conferring of that) nor such miraculous Manifestations of the Holy Ghost, [5/6] as have not Connexion with it; but such a measure of spiritual Endowments, and inward Assistances, as might enable him to Answer all the Obligations of that high Calling, and conduct him through all the Labyrinths, and Discouragements of it. For we may observe two different Communications of Grace; the one accommodated to a Private Life, and the other to a Publick Employment. First, As to a Private Christian, the necessity of Divine Grace to lead him the Paths of Religion, and furnish him with Wings for Heaven to call him (like Lazarus) out of the Grave, and animate him with Spiritual Life; to restrain him for Sin, and over him against Temptations; to excite him to good Works, and unaffected Piety; to inflame his Devotions, and lift up his Soul in Prayer; to guide him in Perplexities, and comfort him in Sorrows; to enlighten his Mind, and dispel the natural Darkness of it; to purify his Will, and Affections, and make him a Temple for the Holy Ghost; all this is earnestly asserted by the Church of God. And this acknowledgement (though contradicted by humane Pride, and Philosophy, and the Pelagian Scheme) results from our Saviour's Declaration, Without me ye can do nothing: And is so interwoven in all our Publick Prayers, that we must renounce our Liturgy, before we can set up our selves, or the feebleness of Nature, against the Grace of God; and ascribe what is good to us to any other Principle. Wherefore though the Motions of the Spirit within us are insensible, and as to the manner of them inexplicable; and 'tis equally hard to explain, How we co-operate with him; and what Limits are to be fix'd between [6/7] his Efficacy, and the Liberty of the Will; how far Grace may be resisted; and how far 'tis victorious: yet the Power, and Goodness of God in conducting us to eternal Happiness by inward Succours, as well as outward Dispensations, is gratefully to be own'd by every Christian: And the Maxim of our Apostle can never be gainsaid, It is God which worketh in you both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure; even in you, that (as 'tis suggested immediately before) work out your own salvation with fear, and trembling.
V. But Secondly, there is a larger Distribution of Grace, proportionable to publick Employments, when God raiseth Men providentially to them: And of this the same Apostle speaks in his own Case; by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. The Regal, and Sacerdotal Unction in the Jewish Church signified the Presence and Guidance of the blessed Spirit, in executing those great Offices: and that excellent Hymn ascribed to St. Ambrose, wherein we call down the Holy Ghost at these Solemnities, supposeth the Abilities for the Government of the Christian Church to be infus'd by him. 'Tis the Character of our heavenly High-Priest, that God gave not the spirit by measure unto him, by limited Portions: but to other Men God vouchsafes it in a stinted manner, and respectively to the Wants of that Station, which his special Providence placeth them in. And when he thus appoints any Person to govern his Church, there comes upon him a new [7/8] Spirit; and (as 'tis said of the first King chosen by God) he is turned into another man, and God gives him another heart. And since the seven Gifts of the Spirit, (which we are now supplicating for) the Spirit of Wisdom, (to manage happily the publick Affairs of the Church) and that of Understanding, (to penetrate with quickness into all matters that fall under a Ruler's Inspection) and that of Counsel, (to direct what is to be done in all intricate Emergencies) and that of Might, (to resist, and conquer Opposition) and that of Knowledge, (to be as a scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and able to unfold the Mysteries of Faith) and that of the fear of the Lord, (to rule with an awful Sense of being accountable to God) and that of Piety, (to maintain a constant Communion with him) are all necessary for the Office, and work of a Bishop in the Church of God; we may humbly presume, that they to whom 'tis worthily committed do, by the Imposition of Hands, and upon the Prayers of the Church, receive (in this Dimension) the Holy Ghost. There are (saith St. Paul) diversities of gifts, and differences of administrations; but the same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will: And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. And then we may undeniably conclude, that they whom the edifying and preserving of the Church is chiefly entrusted with, can neither fail of a Competency of spiritual Gifts, when seeking devoutly for them; nor can without these Effusions bear up the Credit of their Function, and the Power of Religion. For to appear with the proper Lustre of a Bishop, and attend with integrity, and [8/9] Courage upon the Service of God, and his Countrey: To be full of Eyes, (like those Ministers about the Throne of God) to see over a whole Diocese, and reside in every Parish of it: to act as a true Father towards his Clergy, supporting their Dignity, as well as his own, and defending them against Encroachments, and Oppression; and yet to govern them with Impartiality, as well as Lenity, to wink at none that are licentious, and indulge none that either scandalize their Flocks, or wander from them: to rescue the Pastoral Rod from Contempt; and yet to use it with the Spirit of Meekness: To fear no Man's Frowns, or Displeasure; and yet to be made all things to all men, that he may save some: To lay To lay on unspotted hands, and open the Altar to none but the Worthy: To exercise the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind: To shew Moderation tempered with Zeal, and Condescension with Steadiness: to strive with the Humours, and Pride, and Vices of Men disaffected to the Church; or that think themselves above the Checks of a Spiritual Father: To be an Example in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity: to be upright, and inflexible in Publick Councils; discerning, and unbiass'd on the Seat of Judgment; undaunted, and strenuous in protecting Religion, and Justice: To guard the Doctrine, and Order of the Church; and reduce straying Sheep to her Communion: To gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and chase away the Wolves: To preach, and rebuke, and live with Authority; and endure hardness, as a good souldier of Jesus Christ: [9/10] To uphold a Church beaten with Storms on every side; and to be resolv'd to die for it, rather than to desert it: nay, to seek the Peace, and Welfare of all Christian Churches; and to be in Care, and Charity an Universal Bishop; To plant, and water in barren Soils; and (as an Apostle in the Original sense) to spread the Light of the Gospel in the dark Corners of the Earth: In a word, to be as an Angel of God for the Sanctity, and Wisdom, and Activity: all this is such a weight of Merit, and of Work, and requires such uncommon Talents, and such liberal Supplies from Heaven, as that it may justly be said, Who is sufficient for these things?
VI. This sufficiency can come from God, and from him alone: and how in the ordinary course it may be obtain'd, we may discern from the Third Point, namely the manner of Admission to the Episcopal Office: It was given thee with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. And what did this Ceremony import? Who had the right of using it? and what was this Presbytery? The Argument of the Day, as well as of my Text, empowers me before this Venerable Audience, to touch upon these Questions: And though I can say nothing new, after such a Mass of rich Learning as hath been produced on this Subject; (but still with endless Contradiction) I crave your Patience for these Four Propositions: First, That the Presbytery here mention'd was of the Order of Bishops: Secondly, That this Order (as distinct from, and superiour to common Presbyters) is of Apostolical Institution: Thirdly, That by the same Authority Bishops have [10/11] the sole Right of Ordaining: Fourthly, That this Power is to be exerted by the laying on of Hands, with solemn Prayer. These are plain and easie Observations, legible in the purest Antiquity, and without any difficulty in their Proof; unless to such as are engag'd against them by embarking in a Party, or by invincible Prepossessions. The First Proposition is, That the Presbytery before us was of the degree of Bishops: For by this Expression our Apostle cannot mean such Presbyters as were distinguish'd from Bishops, and placed in a lower rank; because he, in the fulness of his Authority, presided at the Consecration of Timothy; and thereupon gives him this advice, I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the Gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands. And for a clearer view of the matter, it may be considered that the name of Presbyters, at the beginning of the Christian Church, was often applied both to ordinary Bishops, and to the Apostles themselves. And so we read that St. Paul sent from Miletus to Ephesus, and called the Elders of the Church, or the Presbyters: And what these were, we may observe from what follows; Take heed unto your selves, and to all the Flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you Bishops: For such they probably were, (Ephesus being the Metropolis of the Proconsular Asia, and having many Cities under it) and then the Word is to be thus translated. Again, the same Apostle saith, Let the elders that rule well (that is, the Bishops, who are the Rulers of the Church) be counted worthy of double honour; especially they who labour in the word, and doctrine. Nay, the greatest Apostles, [11/12] St. Peter, and St. John call themselves Elders: and we cannot degrade them into inferiour Presbyters. And therefore the Deduction from the Confusion of Names for the Parity of Order, is very weak: And since bare Presbyters (as a Learned * [* Chrysostom.] Father asserts on my Text) never ordained a Bishop, they could not be the Ordainers of Timothy.
VII. This will be confirm'd from the Second Proposition, That the Order of Bishops is of Apostolical Institution. For the evincing hereof, First, let it be consider'd, that Christ committed the whole Power of his Church to his Apostles; and they were to govern, as well as to instruct it; For this is their Commission, As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. By which divine Appointment, and by the antecedent Discrimination that he made between the Apostles, and the LXX Disciples, 'tis manifest that the Apostolical Office was superiour to any other in the Christian Church. And since the Apostles (by reason of their Mortality) could not always govern it; nor could (during their stay in this World) be present in all particular Churches: The question is, Whether (to supply this loss) they took care to constitute an Order of Men, that should be invested with their Authority, and go down in succession through all the Ages of the Church? For if they did so, unquestionably the Spirit of Christ directed them: and then the divine Right of the Order is equally visible, whether Christ did personally appoint it upon Earth, or the Apostles did it by Inspiration from him. Now the Foundation of Episcopacy being thus laid in the Apostolical [12/13] Employment, 'tis not of much moment to enquire, Whether the Apostles (who had such an extensive Charge) did properly fix their Sees, as Bishops, in particular Cities; as S. Peter is by general voice of Antiquity reckoned Bishop of Rome? For though all this should be deny'd, and the Apostles (who were to convert the whole World, and to remove from one Nation to another) cannot so justly be confin'd within narrow Provinces; yet if Bishops were planted by them in these, to reside upon their departure, and do really succeed into their Power; the Consequence is certain for the Divine Establishment of this Order.
VIII. Let it then be consider'd Secondly, That the Apostles admitted other fit Men into a share in their Employment, as they had occasion for their help: and as Christ put the Government of the Church into their hands, so they delegated the same truth to the Bishops of the Churches founded by them. Of this Number were Timothy and Titus; as is evident from S. Paul's Epistles to them: wherein we find as convincing Marks of their Episcopal Supremacy, as can well be desir'd. For to them he assigns the Power of Ordaining: Lay hands suddenly on no man, is his advice to one of them; and he tells the other, I left thee in Crete, that though shouldst ordain Elders in every City. And both of them are instructed by him in the qualifications of Bishops, (that are to take care of the Church of God) and of Deacons; that they might know whom to ordain, and whom to repell. Again, they had the Power of Jurisdiction: For to one of them this Injunction is given, A man that is an Heretick, after the first, and second admonition reject: [13/14] and to the other this, Against an Elder receive not an accusation, but before two, or three witnesses: Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. Again, the Custody of the Christian Doctrine, and publick Worship, is allotted to them; and they have many Rules tending thereunto: one of them is admonish'd to charge some that they teach no other Doctrine, than what the Apostle had deliver'd; and to hold fast the form of sound words; and to commit what he had heard to faithful teachers: and the other, to rebuke his People sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; and to speak the things which become sound doctrine. All which are Indications of their Episcopal Power, and confirm the Tradition of the Church concerning their Character. For if they had such an inherent Authority, they were more than bare Evangelists; or (as a new notion is) Itinerant Commissioners from the Church of Jerusalem. To them may be added the Angels of the VII Churches in Asia; and perhaps Timothy was one of these: and another of them was Polycarp, made * [* Iren. l. 3. c. 3. Tertul. De Praef. c. 32.] Bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles; and the rest were Bishops, represented (from their illuminating Office) under the figure of so many Stars. And for the earlier Settlement of this Order, S. Paul's Canon may be alledg'd; Obey them that have the rule over you, toiV egoumenoiV; (which is the Word for Bishops, as a most ancient + [+ Orig. in Mat. p. 420.] Father observes; and S.* [* Ep. ad. Cor. §. I.] Clement sets them above Presbyters) for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account. And this overthrows the late Fancy of a very learned ** [** Dodw. de Schif. Angel.] Writer, who (affirming Episcopacy to be Apostolical) placeth the date of it after all the Books of the New Testament.
 IX. Thirdly, let it be consider'd, that as the Scriptures lead us so far in discovering the Episcopal Form; so this appears to have been the sense of the Christian Church, in the purest Ages of it. And from this universal Consent I might argue, (with a late eminent * [* Bishop Stillingfleet.] Prelate of our Church) That there is as great reason to believe the Apostolical Succession to be of Diving Institution, as the Canon of Scripture, or the Observation of the Lord's day: and that it cannot but seem unequal, not to allow the same Force, where there is the same Evidence: and that in a regular, well-constituted Church, Bishops are to continue to the world's end. For when S. + [+ see below] Irenaeus, and ** [** see below] Clement of Alexandria, and ++ [++ see below] Tertullian, and S. * [* see below] Cyprian assert, that Bishops succeed the Apostles in governing the Church, and were constituted by them; and + [+ see below] one of them (born perhaps in the Apostolical Age) declares, that the Apostles deliver'd the Church in every City to Bishops; and that ? [? L. 3. c. 3.] Linus (mention'd by S. Paul) was made Bishop of Rome by him, and S. Peter; and in the same place more fully, We are able to name those that were appointed Bishops by the Apostles in several Churches; [15/16]
[Footnotes page 15:
+ Hyginus nonum locum Episcopatus per successionem ab Apostolis habuit. L. I. c. 28. Tertio loco ab Apostolis Episcopatum fortitur Clemens. Id l. 3. c. 3. Nunc duodecimo loco Episcopatum ab Apostolis habet Eleutherius. Id. ib. Presbyteris obaudire oportet, his qui successionem habent ab Apostolis; qui cum Episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum acceperunt. Id. l. 4. c. 43.
** [Greek text] De Divit. Sal. §. 42.
++ Hoc modo Ecclesiae Apostolicae census Juos deferunt: Perinde unique & caetera exhibent quos ab Apostolis in Episcopatum constitutos Apostolici seminis traduces habeant. De Praescript. Haer. c. 32. Habemus Joannis Alumnas Ecclesias. Nam ordo Episcoparum ad originem recensus, in Joannem stabit auctorem. Sic & caeterarum generositas recognoscitur. Id. adv. Marc. l. 4. c. 5.
* Praepositos, qui Apostolis vicaria ordinatione succedunt. Ep. 66. Apostolos quibus nos successimus, eadem potestate Ecclesiam Dei gubernantes. Ejusd. Concil. Charthag. p. 242.
+ Iren. l. 4. c. 63 & l. 5. c. 20.]
[text continues page 16:] to whose care they committed these, and left them to succeed in their Government: Again, when * [* Cyprian] one of the same Fathers (a celebrated Martyr) assures us that [+ see below] Bishops were instituted by Christ himself: Again, when they, and other Writers as ancient, and even the Roman ? [? Ep. ad Cor. §. 40] Clement (as ** [** Cotel.] learned Men understand him) plainly distinguish ++ [++ see below] Three Orders of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons; without any suggestion that this Distinction was introduc'd after the Apostles: (not to mention S. Ignatius, though a decisive Witness, because the Authority of his Epistles hath been peevishly disown'd) I say, when Men of such illustrious Renown, and Learning, and Piety, and so near to the Apostles, (that they could not but know the material Transactions under them) agree in setting forth these Advantages of Episcopacy; is it not incredible, that it should be repugnant to the Apostolical Frame? And will not these Considerations put together amount to a Demonstration, that the Episcopal Government is not Humane, and Indifferent, and Mutable; but was establish'd by the Spirit of God in the Apostles for a perpetual, and irreversible Constitution? If it was so, how long after them did the Innovation begin? How was it universally consented to? and in what Synod did the self-denying Presbyters surrender their Trust? Doctrines may be deprav'd silently, and by imperceptible degrees; because Truth (like the Fountain of it) is invisible, and in Speculations we easily pass by it without discerning it: But Government is a thing so conspicuous [16/17]
[Footnotes, page 16:
+ Apostolos, id est, Episcopos, & praepositis Dominus elegit. Ep. 3. Dominus noster Episcopi honorem, & Ecclesiae suae rationem disponens, in Evangelio loquitur, & dicit Petro; Ego tibi dico, quia tu es Petrus, &c. Inde per temporum & successionum vires, Episcoporum Ordinatio, & Ecclesiae ratio decurrit; ut Ecclesia super Episcopus constituator, & omnis actus Ecclesiae per eosdem Praepositos gubernetur. Id. Ep. 33.
++ Clem. Al. Paedag. i. 3. c. 12. & Strom. l. 6. p. 667. Tertul. de Praescrip. c. 41. & de Bapt. c. 17. & de Monogam. c. 11. & de Fug. c. 11. Herm. L. 1. Vis. 3. Orig. in Jer. Hom. 11. & 14. & in Mat. p. 363. & 442, & de Orat. p. 103. Vide etiam Pearson. Vindic. Ignat. P. 2. C. 13. % Bevereg. Cod.Can. Vind.]
[text continues page 17:] and in which every Man hath such a known Interest; and Men are naturally so desirous of ruling, and the best of them so tender, and uneasie in parting with the least Punctilio of any right; that 'tis equally a wonder, how in those times of Martyrdom, any good Men could be so tame as to give up a sacred Power, or so ambitious as to accept this resignation: and 'tis no less, that all this could be done without any noise, or opposition, or reproach from Hereticks; and that in one of the most learned Ages of the World, there should not be any record of it left. I conclude then, that whatever Exemption Cases of Necessity may deserve; no just Apology can be offer'd for the overturning of this Apostolical Hierarchy; which was never violated, till after a Possession of 1500 years.
X. And so I hasten to the Third Proposition, That Bishops have originally the sole right of Ordaining. For this being the principal Branch of Ecclesiastical Power, it must be appropriated to them, on whom alone it was bestow'd: and so it ever was by the Primitive Rules. Which are so clear in this matter, that though Presbyters too (as standing on a lower ground, and possibly not mention'd in Scripture under this Name) have their Order, and the rights consequential to it, from the Apostles; and to them also is assign'd in very early times a * [* (Greek text). Orig. in Mat. p. 443.] protokaqedria, and a subordinate Partnership in + [+ (Greek text) Chrysost. H. 11. In l. ad Tim.] governing, and the honour of being Councellors and Assessors to [17/18] the Bishops: yet they never pretended to * [*(Greek text) Id. ib.] Ordain, nor affected any independent and coordinate Authority. They did, I confess, in some Churches (as now with us) put their hands, in conjunction with the Bishop, upon those of their own degree: but this was to testifie their consent to the Act of the other; and they never did it without him, and much less against him. For they knew well the Equity of Solomon's Law, Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set. We have therefore reason to bless God, that our Ordinations are so conformable to the Primitive Model; and to wish for the restitution of it, where it has been neglected. For though I humbly conceive, that a defective Ordination (when free from Schism) doth not unchurch a Body of Christians; and we cannot think with any appearance of Charity, or Truth, that (merely for this Imperfection) God will reject, as unclean, the Prayers and Sacraments of Congregations assembled in his Name, and deny them the vital Communications of his Grace; yet it gives occasion of insulting to Adversaries without, and of Scruples to honest Minds within: and to stand up pertinaciously for it, to contend for it as the purer, and more Apostolical, is a strange excess; and hath (I fear) been no small obstruction to the Progress of the Reformation. At the beginning whereof, (when good Men were bent only upon shaking off Popish Tyranny) Regular Ordination was wanting in some Churches by the Calamities of the times; the next Step was, that this Want (though lamented by many) was justify'd by others as none; and then in the Process of the Controversie, (as we see to our grief) they from whose hands it rightfully comes, were [18/19] decry'd, and thrown out as Antichristian Usurpers. This Disorder the old Martyrs, and Confessors of the Church would have been astonish'd at: But God (who hath in his hand the Hearts of Princes, and People) is able to put a Period to it, and to dispossess the evil Spirit of Schism; and he will do it (we trust) in his good time, and restore in all places the true Government, and Discipline, and Unity of his Church. And then our Church (which now stands alone, and unshelter'd, like an old Castle in the Sea) will have Concord at home, and support from her Neighbours: then Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim: Then there will be no Faction, or Division, no quarrelling, or destroying in the Mountain of the Lord: but Mercy, and Truth shall meet together; righteousness and peace shall kiss each other.
XI. The Power of Ordaining, being thus ascertain'd, a word may suffice upon the Fourth Proposition; That 'tis to be exerted by the laying on of hands, with solemn Prayer. And this is a practice that is generally agreed upon; though dust hath been rais'd to no purpose about the necessity of it: and some of the Socinians (those notorious Under-miners of Christianity) are willing to have it cast away as an old Superstition: nor is it a wonder, that they who would subvert the Fundaments of our Religion, should trample upon the Rituals of it. But the Apostolical Use of this Ceremony is too obvious to be insisted upon: and it was transplanted into the Christian Church from the Jewish, where it went along with publick Benedictions; and was also a Rite of Dedication, in setting Men apart for eminent [19/20] Offices. And thus God commanded Moses to lay his hands upon Joshua, and (in consequence of this Imposition) to put some of his honour upon him; that is, some discriminating Gifts to fit him for Government: And though before this Rite, he is call'd a Man in whom is the Spirit; (which shews how well he was antecedently qualify'd) yet the effect of it upon him appears from what is said, that he was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him. And why may not the same Ceremony (when us'd by the Rulers of the Church, and attended with the Prayers of it) still produce the same Benefits?
XII. Though I have stay'd too long upon this Argument, I must (with your permission) not forget the Fourth Head, the Deduction of our Apostle from the laying on of his hands: Neglect not the gift that is in thee. For since Your hands (Holy Fathers) confer such an important Authority, and are accompany'd by the Divine Spirit; how great is the Duty annex'd to this Gift? and who can safely neglect the one, or the other? The Phrase here implies much more; namely, the cherishing, and exciting, and improving of the Grace given; and (as the Form from our Apostle is) the stirring of it up: which Metaphor is conceiv'd to be taken from the Priests in the Temple, who were continually to blow up that sacred Fire, which at first came down from Heaven. That therefore which descends from God at your Consecration, is Spiritual Aid proportionable to your State: That which belongs to you, is (as S. Paul speaks) the labouring together with God, the setting of his Grace on work, the blowing [20/21] up, and spreading of that Fire, which is given you to warm, and enliven the World. How Episcopal Grace is particularly to be kindled, and manag'd, is too sublime a Theory for those of a lower sphere: but it will not misbecome me to intimate, That the general improvement of the Ministerial Gift, is chiefly attainable by IV. Ways: First, by reading, and Mediation: Secondly, by a diligent application to the business of this Calling: Thirdly, by a frequent review of the Vows of Ordination, and Prayer for the performance of them; and lastly, by a pious, and exemplary Life.
XIII. The First way is that which our Apostle prescribed immediately before my Text, Give attention to * [* (Greek text) Chrysost. H. 13. In I. ad Tim.] reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. For they whose work it is to instruct others, must be sure of understanding what they teach; and be still increasing in knowledge, and digging in the Mines of divine Truth; which the most indefatigable search can never reach the bottom of: the Word of God having a kind of Infiniteness to the Contemplative Soul, as well as God himself. And 'tis indeed the noblest pleasure to entertain the Mind with this Banquet, and pull down innocently the Branches of the Tree of Knowledge; to gaze upon the Mysteries of Religion unveil'd, to go up into the Mount, (like Moses) and converse with God: and when a Preacher hath been meditating, and dwelling thus upon the Discoveries of the Gospel, he may talk with a Glory about him, and communicate with success his light to others. And such proficiency is more necessary in a profligate and corrupted Age; which hath so many snares and temptations at hand to seduce Men into Errors, and unsettle [21/22] them in their Principles, and embolden them to loose, and Atheistical Practices: and when he that undertakes to reform them, is to regard himself as going into an Amphitheatre to fight with Beasts. And is it not visible, that higher degrees of Learning, and Knowledge, are now requisite; when so many new Altars are set up against the Communion of the Church, and every Sect is contending for Dominion; when the Doctrines of the Trinity, and Incarnation, and Satisfaction of Christ, and the Resurrection, are exploded in our Streets; and the very Principles of Natural Religion, the Providence of God, and Immortality of the Soul, are openly assaulted; when the old Heresies are rak'd out of their Graves, and monstrous Opinions are every day invented; and among such different shapes of Protestants, we have too many that protest against all Religion, and all Morality? And is there not then very great reason to deliver the Bible into the hands of them that are dedicated to the Ministery of the Church; and to remind them by this Usage, that they are bound to be always conversant therein, to preserve, and defend the Oracles of it, and to make it the Guide of their Preaching, and of their Lives? This is an Obligation common to us all: But Bishops are more peculiarly the Keepers, and Guardians of the Truths of Religion; and are plac'd about the Garden of the Lord, to keep (in this sense) the way of the tree of life. That good thing (saith S. Paul to his Son) which was committed unto thee, (Catholicae fidei talentum, as a * [* Vincent Liv. c. 27.] Father of note expounds it) keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us: 'Tis deposited with them, and they are responsible for it to God, and his Church: and if they are perfidious in keeping it, [22/23] Errours, and Corruptions will overspread the Church; and when Heresie is got into the Episcopal Seat, 'tis as if the Ark of God (with his Law therein) were taken Captive.
XIV. Secondly, The Gift of Ordination is to be excited by a diligent Application to the Business of our Calling: And when God finds us doing his work, he will bless it, and us for attending to it. 'Tis the Honour of God's Servant to be (as he is) a Lover of Souls; and Love naturally makes Men unwearied, and eager in promoting the Happiness of the Object belov'd: and therefore it becomes him to be very sedulous in pursuing this Work, the most glorious that Man is capable of. And as by taking heed to himself, and to his doctrine, he will both save himself, and them that hear him: so let him beware (as he values Salvation) lest by a slothful, and careless management he should prove a Destroyer of Souls, and bring Damnation upon himself. For God will not be satisfied without our Diligence; but with it, whatever the event is, we shall be safe: and though we cannot be sure of having the Harvest suitable to our Cultivation; (especially in such unfruitful Ground, and such a tempestuous Season) yet we cannot fail of God's Benediction, nor of reaping what he hath promis'd. And if we endeavour to make the best use of our Stock, and hide not our Talent in the Earth, we shall enter into the joy of our Lord; though we cannot boast of our success, nor come with this Answer, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. This after all disappointments will be a lasting comfort to us, [23/24] that we have labour'd sincerely to serve our Redeemer: and when we do so, we may expect (and not otherwise) that God will assist, and approve us, and furnish us with the Riches of his Grace. He is ever moving in the vast Circle of Heaven, and turning the Wheels of the Creation, and dispersing his Benefits among Men; and then he may well require the Officers of his House to resemble him in being active, and industrious, and incessantly employ'd in doing good.
XV. Thirdly, A frequent review of the Vows of Ordination will much conduce to the Incitement of the Grace then imparted; especially if daily Prayer for this end adds fresh vigour to them. We then promis'd before the Church faithfully to minister the Doctrine, and Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ, as he hath commanded; to banish, and drive away all erroneous and strange Doctrines; to use both publick, and private Monitions, and Exhortations to our People; to be diligent in prayers, and reading of the holy Scriptures; to maintain peace, and quietness, and Love; to make our selves wholsome Examples, and Patterns to the flock of Christ; and to obey, and submit our selves to our Governours. And promises to the same effect are renew'd by those of the Superiour Order: with the accession of such, as are fitted to the Prerogatives of it. And when all these Engagements (made with such biding circumstances, in the Sanctuary of God, before the Governours of his Church, in the presence of his Angels, in the Assembly of his People, and at going up to his Holy Table) are seriously imprinted upon the Conscience, and frequently recall'd, and [24/25] Prayer for the Ability to accomplish them, is constantly offer'd to God; his Conduct, and Favour may confidently be expected; and there can be no fear of running in vain, or of losing a full Reward. For there is this transporting Assurance to all that feed the flock of God willingly, and as ensamples to it, not as Lords over his heritage; that when the chief shepherd shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
XVI. This brings me to the last way of stirring up the sacred Gift, namely that of a pious, and exemplary Life. For without this, we cannot acquit our selves as becomes the Stewards of the Gospel; and let our natural Endowments, and outward Gifts be never so glittering, there must be a Lamp of Devotion burning within; or else we are not fit to be Spiritual Guides. But by doing, as well as teaching the Commands of our Lord, we shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. There is a natural Oratory in a good Life, and it recommends Vertue more powerfully than the most eloquent Tongue: and it hath too a Moral influence, by inducing God to bless our Industry, and to give Increase to our Labours. And therefore if we would perswade Men to be vertuous, and charitable, and devout, we must be so our selves: and our being so will entitle us to the Aids of the Spirit, and cause us to rejoyce in the Fruits of our holy Toil. And if we are sensible of having done our duty, and discharg'd our Consciences, we need not be concern'd at any Discouragements abroad; because we serve a Master that cannot disappoint us, and our Reward is reported where no Malice [25/26] can defeat us. Who then (as he excites us) is that faithful, and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his houshold, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
XVII. And thou, O Man of God, follow after these things; after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness: keep that which is committed to thy trust, and be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus: fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. This is the mighty Recompense that preponderates all the hardships of this good warfare; and (even in the brightest days of the Church) is the noblest Encouragement to it: no other Incentive prevailing upon a generous, and Christian Soul, but the power of doing good, and the prospect of a future Retribution for it. for they that here are effectually the Lights of the World, shall shine hereafter as Stars in a much higher Orb. Great, and tremendous at all times is the burthen of the Episcopal Charge; and supernatural strength (which no Intruder, no unworthy seeker hath any claim to) is necessary to bear it: and especially in this Age, when there is so little reverence for sacred things, such an unbridled licentiousness of Manners, and open contempt of Religion; and when the Church (though protected so graciously by the Royal Scepter) is bleeding (I pray God, it may not be to death) with the Wounds of a most unhappy, and groundless Separation. Again, great is the Apprehension to a good Man, of passing through that severe scrutiny at the Bar of Christ: when he is to be strictly examin'd, By what Motives he enter'd [26/27] upon this ministration? With what fidelity he discharg'd it? What Talents he receiv'd for it? How many Souls he gain'd? How many Sectaries he reduc'd? What Vices, and Scandals were ejected by him? How watchful he was in governing; how uncorrupt in judging; how assiduous in preaching and visiting, and reforming; how liberal in relieving; and how careful to give a shining Example? But greater still, and infinitely encouraging, is the Prize due to him, that can return a joyful Answer to these Articles of Enquiry: and that can truly profess at the Close of his Labours, Lord, I have walked before thee with a perfect heart; I have increas'd Thy Money given me to trade with; I delighted to do thy will; and I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. Happy is the Pastour of the Church, that is prepar'd for such a chearful Account of his Stewardship at God's Tribunal: that lives with the refreshing Hope, that when the Ensigns of his Dignity shall be buried with him the Dust, he shall be more advanced in God's everlasting Temple: that can look back upon his past Services with humble Joy, and look up to Heaven with holy Confidence; and can go to God with as much alacrity, as a faithful Commander returns to his Prince after a prosperous Expedition: and that when he hath spent himself in the heat of the Vineyard, and is drawing near to Eternity, can say triumphantly with our Apostle, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and unto all them that love his appearing.
 For which wonderful day (the Expectation of all righteous Souls, whether in the Body, or out of it) God, in his infinite Mercy, prepare us, through the merits of our eternal Mediatour, and the assistances of his Spirit. To which ever-blessed Trinity be all Praise, and Glory for ever. Amen.