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"office itself being conferred, and the vocation made by the elec❝tion of the church. And so scrupulous were the apostles in ap"pointing this order of things, which was to remain in the church, "that, even in their presence, the ordination rite was performed "by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."*
Again, he says, "As to ordinations of this kind, (by presbyters,) can the author be ignorant that the distinction of bishop "and presbyter, as expressive of different offices, is a distinction "which not only cannot be proved by the scriptures; but which "contradicts their express language, in which it is plain that bi"shop and presbyter are only different names expressive of the same office? Can this author be ignorant of the opinion of St. "Jerome, of Hilary, the deacon, and, after them, of Hincmar, "which they have so explicitly given, concerning the unity or "identity of the office of bishop and presbyter, in the earliest ages "of the church; and concerning the origin of that distinction "which afterwards took place between them? Can he be ignorant "that St. Augustine himself, writing to St. Jerome, refers that "distinction, not to the primitive institution of the ministry, but "merely to an ecclesiastical custom, which had since grown up? "Can he be ignorant that some of the fathers have taught us, that "the ordination of a presbyter and a bishop are strictly one and "the same, and not different kinds of acts, sufficiently expressing "to us the identity of the offices? And as to the right of ordain"ing, can this author deny that St. Paul speaks of the laying on "of the hands of the presbytery? Can he deny that presbyters "anciently ordained equally with bishops ?"+ Further, "The "right of ordination, therefore, is one that naturally belongs to "presbyters. And since they have been deprived of it by rules "and constitutions which are merely of human authority, the " right still remains essentially attached to their office, and they "may justly reclaim it, whenever the state of the church will per"mit. And that I may declare my opinion with freedom, it ap66 pears to me that the haughty and insolent opinion, which main"tains the absolute necessity of episcopal ordinations, and, with
* Historical Defence of the Reformation, 4to. ed. 1673. P. iv. C. 3. p. 342. Histor. Def. p. 372, 373.
❝out them, annihilates the church, the ministry, and the sacraments, however pure the faith, the doctrine, and the piety of the church "may be ;-thus making religion depend on a form, and that form ❝of mere human invention;-I repeat it, it appears to me that this insolent opinion carries on it the character of a shameful corrup "tion; it bears the mark of profound hypocrisy, of a pure pha"risaism, which strains at a gnat, while it swallows a camel. I "cannot help having, at least, a deep contempt for such opinions, "and compassion for those who are thus obstinate and headstrong "in maintaining them."*
In 1680, when Owen, Baxter, Alsop, Clarkson, Howe, and other eminent English Presbyterians, had written largely and ably in defence of their principles; the episcopal writers, feeling themselves deficient in argument, made an attempt to support their cause, by soliciting some of the foreign Presbyterians to speak in their favour. For this purpose the bishop of London, in that year, wrote to M. Claude, requesting him to give his opinion of English Presbyterianism. Claude returned a complaisant answer, expressing great respect for the English church; gently blaming the nonconformists for separating from it merely on a question of government; and explicitly conceding that salvation might be obtained, and every spiritual advantage received under the episcopal regimen. Messieurs L'Angle and Le Moyne, being addressed in the same manner, wrote in a similar strain. These letters Bishop Stilling fleet subjoined to a work of his own, on The Unreasonableness of Separation, and pompously published as suffrages for episcopacy; and ever since, they have been confidently quoted for the same purpose.
M. Claude complained that his letter was published without his permission; that a construction was put upon it, which he never intended; and that a use was made of it contrary to his wishes. These complaints were contained in letters addressed to the bishop of London, and to a lady of his acquaintance, in the year 1681; which, however, the Episcopalians of England took care never to publish; and which were never given to the world until after the death of Claude, when they were brought to light by his
* Histor. Def. p. 374.
son. The following extracts from these letters will be sufficient to place the sentiments of the excellent writer in a just point of light.
"I have received the letter which you were pleased to send "me from the bishop of London, with the book which accompa"nied it. I shall have the honour to reply to the bishop, and to "thank him for the present which he hath sent me. Nevertheless, Madam, as I learn from different places, that many persons "have not entirely understood my sentiments and expressions, "touching the present state of the English church, I have believed. "that it would not be improper to explain myself more particu "larly to you, and to let you know the innocence of my thoughts "and intentions. First: I can conscientiously declare that when "I wrote on the subject to the bishop of London, it was not with "the intention that my letter should be printed, or rendered pub"lic; and that I have even been surprised and astonished to see "it as well in French as in English, at the end of the book which "you have sent me, with two others, one of Mons. M. and another "of Mons. A.-But besides this, be assured, Madam; that, in "what I have written, I have had two things only in view; viz.
to justify us from a calumny which some persons imputed to us, "of believing that salvation could not be obtained under the "episcopal government; and of aiding as much as my weakness (C was capable of, a good and holy union of the two parties. "With respect to the first, I believe I have, with sufficient just"ness, explained the sentiments of all the protestants of this king"dom, and in particular, of all those who are honoured with our "character, (the clergy.) And I am even assured that the "English Presbyterians would not go so far as to contest the "possibility of salvation under the ministry of bishops. They "have, for that, too much light, wisdom, and christian charity. "With respect to the second, I have endeavoured to keep all the "measures which ought to be kept in so great and important an "affair as this. I have explained myself only in the form of a "wish, and in showing what I desired that the Presbyterians "might attentively consider. I have not been silent with regard "to the Episcopalians, I have condemned the excesses into which 66 some of both parties have gone; and I have shown, as far as
my little wisdom enabled me, the reasons which should induce "both to a just and reasonable accommodation."
In a letter to the bishop of London, of the same date, M. Claude writes thus." The Nonconformists complain, that the Episcopa"lians are as ardent in pursuing them with the penalties of the "laws, as if they were adversaries and enemies. They complain, "that your government is no less arbitrary and despotic with "regard to dissenting ministers, than that of the bishops of the "Roman communion. They complain, that you will receive no "one to the ministry, till he acknowledges, on oath, that Episco"pacy is of divine right, which is a hell (Gehenne) to the con"science. They complain, that, whilst you do not re-ordain the "Roman Catholic priests who come to you, you do re-ordain mi"nisters, who come to you from beyond the seas, in the churches "of France, Holland, &c. They complain, that the bishops have
a rigid attachment to many ceremonies which are offensive, "and for which, nevertheless, they combat tanquam pro aris et "focis. In the name of God, my Lord, labour to remove these Cl grounds of complaint, if there is any truth in them, and if there " is not, to give information of the real state of the case. And let "all Europe know, that there is nothing which the glory of God, " and the love of the church can demand of you, that you are not "ready to grant."+
It is evident, then, from all the documents which have come to light on this subject, that the English bishops, in order to draw from the foreign Presbyterians something in their favour, sent to them a disingenuous statement of the case; that, under this deception, their answers were written; and that, as soon as they understood the real state of things, they complained of having been treated with duplicity, and declared opinions very different from those which had been imputed to them. That this was the case with M. Claude, is certain; and that it was also the case with his brethren, who shared in the imposition which was practised upon him, I have no doubt would appear, if we had access to their other writings.
Les Oeuvres Posthumes, de M. Claude. Tom. v. Let. 38. † Les Oeuvres Posthumes, de M. Claude. Tom. v. Let. 39.
The learned Daillé is also frequently quoted by zealous Episcopalians, as having made important concessions in favour of prelacy. I cannot undertake to say that no incautious or doubtful sentence ever escaped from the pen of this illustrious protestant, on the subject of episcopacy; though I have never seen any which warrants the construction of our episcopal brethren ; but I may venture to assert, that no candid man can peruse his Sermons on the First Epistle to Timothy, without being convinced that he was a decided and warm advocate of ministerial parity, as having ob tained in the apostolic and primitive church. To prove this, the following extracts are sufficient.
"Here the hierarchs, having their imagination full of their grand "prelatures, of their bishoprics, their archbishoprics, and their pri"macies, do not fail to dream of one in these words of the apostle. "That he besought Timothy to abide still at Ephesus, signifies, if (6 you believe them, that he made Timothy bishop of the Church "of Ephesus; and not only that, but even metropolitan, or arch"bishop of the province; and even primate of all Asia. You see "how ingenious is the passion for the crosier and the mitre, being "able, in so few and simple words, to detect such great mysteries! "For where is the man, who, in the use of his natural understand❝ing, without being heated by a previous attachment, could ever "have found so many mitres-that of a bishop, that of an archbi"shop, and that of a primate, in these two words, Paul besought "Timothy to abide still at Ephesus? Who, without the help of some extraordinary passion, could ever have made so charming ❝and so rare a discovery? And imagine that to beseech a man to "stay in a city, means, to establish him bishop of that city, arch"bishop of the province, and primate of all the country? In very "deed, the cause of these gentlemen of the hierarchy must be re"duced to an evil plight, since they are constrained to resort to "such pitiful proofs."*
Again, he says "St. Paul, and all the company of pastors, "laid hands on Timothy at his ordination. St. Paul as president, "and the rest as colleagues, according to the practice which obtains "among us, where it is usual for the person appointed by the synod "first to lay hands on him that is ordained; all the rest of the pas
* See his first Sermon on the Epistle.