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primitive discipline; that he considered prelacy as an apostolic institution; and that he expressed a decided preference in favour of this form of government: But adds, "I deny not that Calvin "and Beza held, afterwards, a language more presbyterial. At "length, indeed, schism, and the pride of sect, either changed their "sentiments, or perverted their principles. In fact, the conduct of "these men, in relation to the ministry of the christian church, "presents one of the most melancholy examples of the prevalence "of pride over virtue, and of the unhappy influence of schism, in "blinding and infatuating the mind, that the history of human "frailty has ever recorded." Letters, p. 62-75. Dr. Bowden, is equally positive in asserting, that Calvin believed and acknowledged the apostolic origin of episcopacy; and that he justified himself in departing from it only on the ground of necessity. In fact, by subscribing and referring to Dr. Hobart's statement of the case, in his Apology for Apostolic Order, p. 91-117, the reverend professor has gone the whole length of Mr. How.
When I read assertions of this kind, I cannot help recollecting, in a well known and popular fictitious history, a certain chapter which bears the following title-" An humble attempt to prove "that an author will write the better for having some knowledge "of the subject on which he writes." If I had the least apprehension that these gentlemen had ever perused the works of Calvin, or really knew what he has left on record upon this subject, such a representation, so frequently and confidently made, would excite feelings more unfavourable than those of astonishment. But as I have no such apprehension, and feel perfectly persuaded that the perusal of a few detached passages, forms the sum total of their acquaintance with Calvin's writings, I cannot find in my heart to apply a severe epithet to a misrepresentation so total concerning the history of his language and opinions.
The truth is that the earliest of Calvin's writings contain some of the strongest declarations in favour of Presbyterian principles that are to be found in all his works. His Institutions, his first theological work, were published in 1536, before he had ever seen Geneva; before he ever thought of settling there; and when he was so far from aspiring to pre-eminence in any Presbyterian establishment, that he does not appear to have had in view the pastoral office in any church. Now it is certain that this work is as
decisive on the subject of presbytery as any that ever came from his pen. At that period, when his mind appears to have been as dispassionate and impartial as ever that of a reformer was; when he had no visible temptation to deviate from the apostolic model; and when both habit and prejudice were leagued against presbytery, and in favour of episcopacy; at that period, and in that work, he decidedly declared himself an advocate of Presbyterian government, as the truly apostolic and primitive plan. But the following quotations from it will place this fact in a stronger light, than any reasonings or statements of mine.
Book IV. chap. iii. In this chapter he expressly declares it to be his intention to exhibit "that order by which it was the Lord's "will to have his church governed."-In doing this, he unequivocally delivers it as his opinion, that the apostolic model of church government was Presbyterian ;-that both the office and ordination of bishop and presbyter were the same; that the scriptural bishop was the pastor of a single church; that there were sometimes more bishops than one in the primitive churches, and all on a perfect equality; and that there were ruling elders and deacons in those churches, exactly on the Presbyterian plan.
The following extracts, out of many that might be made, are decisive. "Whereas I have indiscriminately called those who "govern the churches, bishops, presbyters, and pastors, I have "done so according to the usage of scripture, which indifferently " employs these terms to designate the same officer; for whoever "executes the office of ministers of the gospel, to them the scrip"tures give the title of bishops. So by Paul, where Titus is com"manded to ordain elders in every city, it is immediately added, "for a bishop must be blameless, &c. Tit. 1. 5. So, in another "place, (Philip. i. 1.) he salutes many bishops in one church. And "in the Acts it is related that he called together the elders of Ephe"sus, whom he himself, in his discourse to them, styles bishops. “Acts xx. 17. But here it is to be observed, that hitherto we have "only taken notice of those offices which pertain to the ministry "of the word; neither doth Paul make mention of any other in "the fourth chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, which we be"fore cited. But in the epistle to the Romans (xii. 7.) and in the "first epistle to the Corinthians, (xii. 28.) he reckons up other "offices, as powers, the gift of healing, interpretation, government,
"taking care of the poor. Of these, I omit such as were merely "temporary, because it is not worth the trouble to dwell upon "them. But there are two that are permanent, government, "and the care of the poor. Those who governed were, in my ❝ opinion, elders chosen out of the laymen of each congregation, "who, together with the bishops, bore rule in the correction of "morals, and in the exercise of discipline. For no one can other"wise expound that which the apostle saith, (Rom. xii. 8.) He that "ruleth, let him do it with diligence. Every church, therefore, "from the beginning, had its own senate, collected from among "the godly, grave and holy, who had that jurisdiction over the "correction of vices of which we shall speak hereafter.—And, "moreover, that this was the order of more than one age, expe"rience itself teaches. This office of government, therefore, is cc necessary for all ages."
"The care of the poor was committed to the deacons-Al"though the word deacon has a more extensive meaning; yet "the Scripture especially calls them deacons, to whom the church "hath given in charge the distribution of alms, and the care of "the poor; and hath appointed them, as it were, stewards of "the common treasury of the poor-whose origin, institution, and "office are described by Luke in Acts vi. For when a murmuring "arose among the Grecians, because in the ministrations to the 66 poor, their widows were neglected, the apostles, excusing them"selves, as not being adequate to the execution of both offices, "both the preaching of the word, and the ministering at tables, "requested the multitude to choose seven honest men to whom "they might commit that business. Behold what manner of deacons the apostolic church had; and what kind of deacons it becomes us to have in conformity with their example !"
Book iv. Chap. 4th. Having treated of the order of the church as "delivered in the pure word of God, and of the ministries as instituted by Christ," he undertakes, in this chapter, to exhibit the order which obtained in the "ancient church," that is, as he explains it, the church as it existed soon after the apostolic age, and before the rise of the papacy. Now this "ancient church," he expressly declares, deviated from the pure apostolic model; but, at the same time, he supposes that the deviation was not great or essential. He proceeds, "As we have declared that there are
"three sorts of ministers commended to us in the Scriptures; so "all the ministers that the ancient church had, it divided into three "orders. For out of the order of presbyters, part were chosen "pastors and teachers, and the rest bore rule in the admistration "of discipline. To the deacons was committed the care of the CL poor, and the distribution of alms. All those to whom the "office of teaching was committed, were called Presbyters. They, "in every city, chose one, out of their own number, to whom they, "specially, gave the title of bishop; that dissensions might not out of equality as is wont to be the case. grow Yet the bishop was not so in honour and dignity above the rest, as to have any "dominion over his colleagues; but the office which the consul "had in the senate, to propose business; to collect opinions; to "preside in consulting, admonishing, and exhorting; to direct, by "his authority, the whole process of business; and to put in exe"cution that which was decreed by the common counsel of all, "the same office had the bishop in the assembly of presbyters. "And even this the ancient writers themselves confess, was brought "in by human consent, on account of the necessity of the times."Therefore Jerome, in his commentary on the epistle to Titus, "saith-A presbyter was the same with a bishop. And before "there were, by the devil's instigation, dissensions in religion, and "it was said among the people, I am of Paul, and I of Cephas, "the churches were governed by the common council of presby"ters. Afterwards, that the seeds of dissension might be plucked
up, all the care was devolved on one person.-As, therefore, the "presbyters know that by the custom of the church, they are sub"ject to him who presides among them; so let the bishops know, "that they are above the presbyters rather by custom, than by any "real appointment of Christ; and that they ought to govern the "churches in common. And in another place, (Epist. ad Evagr.) "he teaches how ancient an institution this was; for he says, "that at Alexandria, from Mark, the evangelist, down to Hera"clas and Dionysius, the presbyters always placed one, chosen "out of their own number, in a higher station, and called him "bishop. Every city, then, had a college of presbyters, who were "pastors and teachers, and who all executed among the people "the offices of instructing, exhorting, and exercising discipline, "which Paul enjoins on bishops, Titus i. 9. And every one of
"these colleges, (as I said before,) was under the presidency of "one bishop, who was only so far above the rest in dignity, as to "be himself subject to the assembly of his brethren."
In chapter 11th, sect. 6, of the same book, speaking of the exercise of discipline in particular churches, he says-" But such "authority was not in the power of one man, to do every thing "according to his own will; but in the assembly of the elders, "which was the same thing in the church that a senate is in a "city. The common and usual manner was for the authority of "the church to be exercised by a senate of elders, of whom (as I “have before said,) there were two sorts, for some were ordained "to teach, and others only to rule in matters of discipline. But "by little and little this institution degenerated from its original "character; so that even in the time of Ambrose, the clergy alone "had cognizance of ecclesiastical causes, of which he complains in "these words-The ancient synagogue," says he, "and after"wards the church, had elders, without whose counsel nothing was "done."-We see how much the holy man was displeased, that "there should be a falling off in any respect, when as yet things "continued, to say the least, in a tolerable condition.—What "would he have said if he had seen the mis-shapen ruins which
now appear, and which exhibit scarcely any vestige of the an"cient edifice? What lamentation would he have expressed? "For, first, against law and right, the bishop hath usurped to "himself that authority which was vested in the church. For it is "all one as if the consul had expelled the senate, and assumed "the empire to himself alone. For surely, though he is in honour "superior to the rest, yet there is more authority in the college ❝than in one man. It was, therefore, a very wicked deed, that one
man, having gotten into his own hands the power which was "before common to the whole college, paved the way to tyranni"cal domination, snatched from the church her own right, and "abolished the presbytery, which, by the Spirit of Christ had "been ordained."
Book iv. Chapter v. Sect. 15. "Now let the deacons come "forth, and that holy distribution which they have of the church's goods; although they by no means, at present, create their "deacons for that purpose. For they (the papists) enjoin upon "them nothing else but to minister at the altar, to read or sing the