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safe appeal now is to the calm, deliberate decision of the whole body of the church. Here the case is open for a full discussion and a fair decision, which, more than any thing else, has power to silence the rage of faction, and to calm the tumults of party. It is in vain to contend against the sovereign power of the majority. The charge of acting from personal prejudice and private animosity lies not against them, as against a single individual. Thus a church may gather about their pastor for the defence of his character, for his encouragement in the faithful discharge of his duty, and for the preservation of their own peace, by silencing the clamors of any restless malcontents.
7. The only mode that has ever been devised for preserving the discipline of the church is to submit it to the control, not of the clergy, but of the members themselves.
The consequence of depriving the members of the church of a participation in its discipline, soon after the rise of Episcopacy, was this ;-they became remiss in their attention to the scandals of their brethren, and withdrew their watch over each other.62 And since that day, when was it ever known that any just discipline was maintained in any church under a national establishment and an independent priesthood? What is the discipline of the Episcopal church even in this country, where, without a state religion, or an independent priesthood, the laity have little or no concern with the admission of members to their communion, or the exclusion of them from it? Let the reader weigh well this consideration. It suggests one of our strong and most important objections to the ecclesiastical polity of the Episcopal church.63 Why do the malcontents of other 62 Planck, Gesell. Verfass., 1, p. 509, seq.
63 Some of the clergy of that communion, we understand, are accustomed to keep a private list of those who are wont to receive the sacred elements at his hands, and if any are found to walk unworthily, their names are silently stricken off from the roll, and their communion with the church is dropped in this informal manner. Such pastoral fidelity, duly exercised,
denominations, men of equivocal character, if not of tarnished reputation, why do they in such numbers take refuge in that church? We wish to bring no unjust accusation against that denomination, but it seems to be admitted, by members of their own communion, that there is no discipline in the Episcopal church. "Every church warden in every parish in England is called upon once a year to attend the visitation of his archdeacon. At this time oaths are tendered to him respecting his different duties; and among other things he swears, that he will present to the archdeacon the names of all such inhabitants of his parish as are leading notoriously immoral lives. This oath is regularly taken once a year by every church warden in every parish in England; yet I believe that such a thing as any single presentation for notoriously immoral conduct has scarcely been heard of for a century."64 Another of the Tractarians complains in the following terms of this total neglect of discipline in the Episcopal church. "I think the church has, in a measure, forgotten its own principles, as declared in the sixteenth century; nay, under stranger circumstances, as far as I know, than have attended any of the errors and corruptions of the Papists. Grievous as are their declensions from primitive usage, I never heard, in any case, of their practice directly contradicting their services; whereas, we go on lamenting, once a year, the absence of discipline in our church, yet do not even dream of taking any one step towards its restoration." 65
8. This mode of discipline gives spiritual life and power to the church.
is worthy of all consideration. But can it be expected, as a general rule, to accomplish the high ends of faithful Christian discipline? Is it the discipline of the New Testament? Or can it be expected of any class of men, that they will have the independence to be faithful here? A magnanimity how rare!
64 Tracts for the Times, No. 59, p. 416.
65 Ibid., No. 41, p. 297.
The moral efficacy of any body of believers depends, not upon their number, but upon the purity of their lives, and their fidelity in duty. A church composed of men who are a living exemplification of the power of the Christian religion by their holy lives, and by a faithful discharge of their duties, such a church, and such only, is what the Lord Jesus designed his church should be,-the pillar and ground of the truth. Now this being conceded, under what form of discipline do you find the purest church? Where do you discover the greatest circumspection in the admission of members? Where, the strictest watch and fellowship, the kindest efforts to recover the fallen, and the most faithful endeavors to defend the honor of the Christian name, and for the revival of pure and undefiled religion? Without intending any invidious reflection, may we request of the reader a careful consideration of this subject? Let him remember, also, what his own observation may have taught him, that a single case of discipline, rightly conducted, gives new life and power to the whole body, quickening every member into newness of life in the service of the Lord. Let him estimate, if he can, the moral efficacy of a living church, quickened into healthful, holy action, compared with one that has a name to live and is dead. Let him ponder well these considerations, before he decides to go over to a communion that tolerates a general neglect of the Christian duty which we have been contemplating.
EQUALITY AND IDENTITY OF BISHOPS AND PRESBYTERS.
SOON after the ascension of our Lord, it became expedient for the brethren to appoint a certain class of officers to superintend the secular concerns of their fraternity. These were denominated diazovoi, servants, ministers, deacons. In process of time, another order of men arose among them, whose duty it was religious interests of the church. nated of poorάuevo, Rom. 12: 8. ηγουμένοι, Heb. 13: 7. 17, 24; πρεσβύτεροι, Acts 20: 17; лiozóлoi, Acts 20; 28, equivalent to the terms, presidents, leaders, elders, overseers. These terms all indicate one and
to superintend the These were denomi
1 Thess. 5: 12; ót
the same office, that of a presiding officer in their religious assemblies. This class of officers is usually designated, by the apostles and the earliest ecclesiastical writers, as presbyters and bishops,-names which are used interchangeably and indiscriminately to denote one and the same office.
The appropriate duty of the bishop or presbyter at first was, not to teach or to preach, but to preside over the church, and to preserve order in their assemblies. "They were originally chosen as in the synagogue, not so much for the instruction and edification of the church, as for taking the lead in its general government."1 The neces
1 Neander's Apost. Kirch., I, p. 44, seq. Comp. Siegel, Handbuch, IV, p. 223. Ziegler's Versuch, der Kirchlichen Verfassungsformen, pp. 3–12. Rothe, Anfänge,I,p.153. So, also, Gieseler, Rheinwald, Böhmer, Winer, &c.
sity of such a presiding officer in the church at Corinth is sufficiently apparent from the apostle's rebuke of their irregularities. "How is it, then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." 1 Cor. 14: 26. The apostle, however, allows all to prophesy, to exercise their spiritual gifts; and only requires them to speak "one by one," that all things may be done decently and in order. The ordinary officers of the apostolical church, then, comprised two distinct classes or orders. The one was known by the name of deacons; the other, designated by various titles, of which the ones most frequently used are presbyters and bishops.
Our proposition is, that Bishops and Presbyters, according to the usage of the apostles and of the earliest ecclesiastical writers, are identical and convertible terms, denoting one and the same class or grade of officers. In this proposition we join issue with the Episcopalians, who assert that bishops were divinely appointed an order of men superior to that of presbyters. We, on the other hand, affirm that presbyters are the highest grade of officers known in the apostolical and primitive churches; and that the title of bishop was originally only another name for precisely the same office. Even after a distinction began to be made between presbyter and bishop, we affirm that the latter were not a peculiar grade distinct from presbyters and superior to them; but merely one of the presbyters appointed from among them to preside over the college of his fellow-presbyters, belonging still to the same order, performing only the same pastoral duties, and exercising only the same spiritual functions; like the moderator of a modern presbytery or association, who still retains a ministerial parity with his brethren, in the duties, rights and privileges of the sacred office. Our sources of argu