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Christian Church, as such.
Episcopalians appear to be particularly fond of this language. It is frequently introduced into their public forms, and no less frequently used by their standard writers. But they employ it without the smallhst countenance from scripture. This is the decided opinion of eminent Episcopal divines. "It is a common mistake," says Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Stillingfleet," to think that the ministers of the Gospel succeed by way of "correspondence and analogy to the priests under the law; which "mistake hath been the foundation and original of many errors. "For when, in the primitive Church, the name of Priests came to "be attributed to Gospel ministers, from a fair compliance only,
(as was then thought) of the Christians, to the name used both "among Jews and Gentiles; in process of time corruptions in"creasing in the Church, those names that were used by Chris"tians, by way of analogy and accommodation, brought in the "things themselves principally intended by those names. So by "the metaphorical names of Priests and Altars, at last came up "the sacrifice of the Mass; without which they thought the names "of Priest and Altar were insignificant."-Irenicum. p. ii. chap. vi. It is also well known that Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Ridley, and several other eminently pious reformers of the Church of England, made zealous opposition to the use of the word Altar, and the whole system of phraseology connected with it, as a Popish affectation of conformity the Temple service
I am not ignorant that some advocates for this language have contended, that as the word Priest is evidently a corruption of the word Presbyter; and as the latter is certainly applied to New Testament ministers, the former may be considered as having a kind of scriptural warrant. But this conclusion is founded on a quibble. In the original Hebrew of the Old Testament scriptures, the sacred office of one who ministered in the Temple service, is expressed by a word, which, in the Septuagint, is always rendered 'Ipsus. This was the Old Testament word for a Levitical Priest. Now this word is never once used in the New Testament to designate a minister of the Christian Church. And accordingly, the translators of our English Bible, faithful to the distinction which they observed to be uniformly kept up in the sacred language, between the ministers of the Temple and those of the Church; uniformly call the former Priests, and their office the priesthood; while they as uniformly avoid applying these names to the latter, but call them, Elders, Bishops, Pastors, &c.
of the Jews; as utterly unsupported by scripture; and as highly mischievous in its tendency.
No less opposed to this principle is the opinion of Dr. Haweis, an Episcopal Divine, expressed in his Ecclesiastical History. "If, says he, the unfounded idea, that Bishops, Priests, and DeaIcons, were to succeed to the High Priest, Priests, and Levites, 66 were true, we must surely have found some intimation of it in "the Epistle to the Hebrews. That men of research," he adds, "should broach such puerilities is surprising."
Dr. Mosheim, in his account of the corruptions which began to creep into the Church, in the second century, makes the following remarks. "The Christian Doctors had the good fortune to "persuade the people, that the ministers of the Christian Church "succeeded to the character, rights, and privileges of the Jewish “ priesthood; and this persuasion was a new source both of hon. "ours and profits to the sacred order. This notion was propa"gated with industry sometime after the reign of Adrian, when "the second destruction of Jerusalem had extinguished among the "Jews all hopes of seeing their government restored to its former ❝ lustre, and their country arising out of ruins. And accordingly "the Bishops considered themselves as invested with a rank and "character similar to those of the High Priest among the Jews, "while the Presbyters represented the Priests, and the Deacons "the Levites. It is, indeed, highly probable, that they who first "introduced this absurd comparison of offices so entirely distinct, "did it rather through ignorance and error, than through artifice "or design. The notion, however, once introduced, produced its "natural effects; and these effects were pernicious."
But admitting, for a moment, that the Levitical priesthood is a proper model for the Christian Ministry; what is the consequence ? It follows inevitably, that as there was but one High Priest over the Jewish Church, so there ought to be but one Bishop over the the Christian Church. So far, then, as the argument has any
It is generally known that Dr. Mosheim was a Lutheran divine, and one of the most learned men of the 18th century. Of the work from which this quotation is made, Bishop Warburton expressed himself in the following terms-" Mosheim's Compendium is excellent—the method “ admirable—in short, it is the only one deserving the name of an ecclesias"tical history."
force, it goes to the establishment, not of diocesan episcopacy, but of a Pope, as the sole vicar of Jesus Christ upon earth and as the proper head of the Church. In fact, the whole argument is borrowed from the Papists,* who have made the only rational and legitimate use of it: and indeed if the general principle be admitted, I see not how it is possible, in any consistency with the analogy contended for, to stop short of one Universal Bishop.
It is evident, then, that this fancied analogy between the Levitical priesthood, and the Christian ministry, is not only destitute of all support from Scripture, but is positively discountenanced and precluded by the New Testament; that if admitted, it would serve the cause of popery, and not that kind of prelacy for which the Church of England, and those of the same sect in this country, contend; and that it is connected with errors, and with a system of language directly calculated to lead men away from the simpli city of the Gospel.
II. Another argument urged by Episcopal writers in favour of their system, is-"That we actually find three distinct orders of "Gospel ministers appointed by Christ, or under his authority, "viz. Apostles, the Seventy Disciples, and Deacons; and that "these correspond with the diocesan Bishops, the Presbyters, and "the Deacons of their Church."
This argument may appear plausible to those who have looked
I am aware that hints of the least affinity between Episcopacy and Popery, are highly offensive to the friends of the former, and have been indignantly repelled. I take no pleasure in giving offence; but as the fact in question is certain, however seriously it may be denied; and as it is impossible to do justice to the cause of truth without stating it, I did not feel myself at liberty to withhold it. I have said, that this argument is borrowed from the Papists. No one will understand my meaning to be, that the argument was not invented or propagated until Popery had become full-grown and mature. The contrary is admitted. The Papacy had a beginning as well as a completion. It arose so gradually that even candid men will always dispute about the principal dates in its rise, progress, and establishment. My meaning is, that the artful parallel between the Jewish priesthood and the Christian ministry, was one of the means early employed by ambitious clergymen to increase their power; and has been always used by the Romish Church as one of the supports of her superstitious system.
only at the surface of the subject; but the slightest examination will evince that it is altogether fallacious and nugatory.
Who were the seventy disciples? They were a set of men sent out on the same errand with the twelve Apostles, and, for aught that appears, were vested with the same powers. They were both commanded to go forth and proclaim, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand; they were both endowed with the power of working miracles; and no hint is given that the former were inferior to the latter. (Compare Matth. x. with Luke x.) The truth is, the first commission even of the twelve Apostles was limited and temporary. They were directed not to go into the way of the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This commission terminated at the death of Christ; and was, after his resurrection, formally renewed, and made unlimited both with respect to time and place. But the Seventy Disciples had no such renewal and extension of their commission. They are mentioned but once in the history of our Lord's ministry by the Evangelists; and after his resurrection, not a syllable is said respecting them. Now as the Jewish dispensation did not give place to the Christian until after the death of Christ, it will inevitably follow that the seventy disciples were never, strictly speaking, ministers of the Christian Church at all; but only temporary missionaries, and that under the Old Testament dispensation.
The force of this reasoning can only be evaded by supposing, that the first commission given to the seventy disciples was unlimited both with respect to its duration and objects. If this were so, then they were superior to the twelve Apostles, whose first commission is acknowledge to have been limited and temporary. But if this were the case, what becomes of the correspondence between their office, and that of Presbyters, whom Episcopalians constantly represent as inferior to Bishops? On the other hand, if the commission of the seventy were temporary, and not afterwards renewed, then it will follow, that when our Lord ascended to heaven, he left but one order of ministers in his Church, which is precisely the fact for which Presbyterians contend. Nay, if the commission of the seventy were even allowed to be unlimited as to time, yet it was obviously confined to preaching the Gospel among Jews, and, of consequence, has nothing to do with us, who are of the Gentiles. So that whether their commission were permanent
or temporary, it affords no aid to the argument for prelacy, but rather opposes and subverts it. Until Episcopalians prove, not only that the seventy Disciples were sent on an inferior ministry, and were vested with inferior powers to those of the twelve; but also that their commission, as well as that of the twelve, was renewed; and that their Master left them in office when he ascended to heaven-until they prove both these, which they never have done, nor can do, the attempt to derive any aid from this source, in vindicating the doctrine of clerical imparity, is altogether vain.
In support of the foregoing remarks, it is easy to produce high Episcopal authority. Dr. Whitby speaks on the subject in the following terms." Whereas some compare the Bishops to the "Apostles, and the seventy to the Presbyters of the Church, and "thence conclude that divers orders in the ministry were instituted "by Christ himself, it must be granted that the ancients did believe "these two to be divers orders, and that those of the seventy were "inferior to the order of the Apostles; and sometimes they make "the comparison here mentioned :-But then it must be also "granted that this comparison will not strictly hold; for the 66 seventy received not their mission as Presbyters do from Bishops, "but immediately from the Lord Christ, as well as the Apostles; "and in their first mission were plainly sent on the same errand, "and with the same powers."-Notes on Luke x. 1.
Bishop Sage, a writer still more zealous for diocesan Episcopacy, expresses himself on the same subject, in a manner no less decisive. "The Apostles," says he, "got not their commission to be "6 governors of the Christian Church, till after the resurrection. "And no wonder, for this their commission is most observably "recorded, John xx. 21, &c. No such thing is any where recorded "concerning the seventy. Nothing is more certain than that the "commission which is recorded Luke x. did constitute them only << temporary missionaries, and that for an errand which could not "possibly be more than temporary. That commission contains "in its own bosom clear evidences, that it did not instal them in "any standing office at all, much less in any standing office in the "Christian Church, which was not yet in being when they got it. "Could that commission which is recorded Luke x. any more "constitute the seventy standing officers of the Christian Church,