Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

scendant and successor of some apostolical bishop. He is sure of that; but that bishop-nobody knows who he is, or what his office may have been,—stat nominis umbra.

2. We deny that the Scriptures give any authority for ascribing to either of the apostles, or to their assistants and fellow-laborers, the exercise of Episcopal authority.

The fathers do indeed concur in assigning Episcopal sees to several of the apostles, and to their helpers. And modern Episcopalians refer us with great confidence to James, to Timothy, Titus, and to the angel of the church in the epistles of the apocalypse, as instances of primitive bishops. Now we deny that either of these exercised the rights and prerogatives of an Episcopal bishop.

(a) James was not bishop of Jerusalem.

We have already seen26 with what care the apostles guarded against the assumption of authority over the churches. They taught, they counselled, they administered, they reproved, indeed, with the authority of ambassadors of God and ministers of Christ. But they assumed not to rule and to govern with the official power of a diocesan. The evidence of this position is already before the reader, and to his consideration we submit it without further remark.

But James, it is said, resided at Jerusalem, as bishop.of that church and diocese; and, in this capacity, offers us a scriptural example of an apostolical bishop. The Episcopal functions of this bishop, therefore, require a particular consideration.

In the days of Claudius Cæsar, arose a dearth throughout Judea, so distressing that a charitable collection was taken up and forwarded by the hands of Barnabas and Saul, to the brethren in Judea, residing in the reputed

26 Chapter I.

diocese of this bishop of Jerusalem. To whom was this charity sent? Not to the bishop, but to the presbyters, the appropriate officers of that church, Acts 11: 30.

The delegation from Antioch was sent, not to the bishop, but to the apostles and presbyters, Acts 15: 2. This delegation should have been received, it would seem, by the bishop, as the official organ of the church. But, instead of this, they are hospitably received by the church, and the apostles, and the presbyters. Not a syllable is said of the bishop. The council convene to consider the question which was submitted for their decision. Who compose this council? The apostles and presbyters, again, without any mention of the bishop. After the discussion, in which James bears indeed a prominent part with the other apostles, who act in making up the result? The apostles and presbyters. It seemed good to the apostles and presbyters, with all the church. Who appear in the salutation of the letter addressed to the church at Antioch? The apostles, the presbyters and the brethren. Mention is again made, Acts 16: 4, of the decrees of this council. Who now appear as the authors of these decrees? The apostles and presbyters. Where is our diocesan all this time? Plainly he has no official character as such. A bishop over this community, just now living together in the simplicity of their mutual love, is an idle fancy, devoid alike of reality, of influence, and of name. Had James been bishop of Jerusalem at this time, would he not have acted a conspicuous part in all these concerns, as we have seen that the presbyters did? Would not his high office have given him a place vastly more prominent than theirs in all these transactions; whereas they, with the apostles, are the chief actors, as the individuals upon whom rests the government of the church at Jerusalem.27

James appears to have resided chiefly at this city 27 Rothe, Anfänge, Vol I, p. 267, seq.

for good and sufficient reasons, without remaining there as the prelatical head of that church or diocese. The holy city was the seat of the Christian religion, and to the apostles, the centre of their operations. It was the church to which all referred, like the church at Antioch, as they might have occasion, for counsel, instruction and support. What more natural than that one of the twelve should remain, as the representative of the college of the apostles, to give direction to their operations and their councils? And for this important trust, James, one of the kindred of our Lord according to the flesh, from his youth a Nazarene, intimately acquainted with all the national peculiarities and prejudices of the Jews, and a blameless and a faithful follower of Christ, was eminently qualified. The testimony of Hegesippus is that "he was holy from his mother's womb," that upon account of his most eminent righteousness he was styled the Just. He represents the Scribes and Pharisees as saying to him, "We all put our confidence in thee; and we, and all the people, bear thee witness that thou art just, and respectest not the person of any man." 28 James the just, then, remained at Jerusalem, as the delegate of the college of the apostles, and the honored counsellor and adviser of the churches, but with no pretensions to diocesan or prelatical authority over them.

As a Jew, as the brother of our Lord, as well as by the amiable characteristics mentioned above, he was eminently qualified to act as mediator between the opposite parties of Jew and Gentile converts; and to counsel, and to act for the peace of the church. But in all this he acted, not as a bishop, but as an apostle, in that divine character, and by that authority, which he possessed as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and which, as Neander has well observed, could be delegated to none other.29

28 Euseb., Eccl. Hist., Lib. 2, c. 23.

29 Introduction, p. 19. Also Apost. Kirch., 2, c. 1, p. 14, seq.

But do not Clement of Alexandria,30 Hegesippus,31 the Apostolical Constitutions,32 Eusebius,33 Cyril of Jerusalem,34 Epiphanius,35 Chrysostom,36 Jerome,37 Augustine,38 and many others of later date, all agree that James was bishop of Jerusalem ? Grant it all. These all characterize him as bishop of Jerusalem. And yet not satisfied that James was bishop of this parent church? No, by no means. Their declaration only relates to a disputed point in the history of the Acts of the Apostles, upon which we, perhaps, are as competent to decide as they. With the same historical data in view, why cannot a judgment be made up upon them as safely in the nineteenth century as in the third or the fifth? With what propriety these ancient fathers denominate James bishop of Jerusalem, let the reader himself judge in view of the foregoing considerations.

But Hegesippus lived in the second century, within one hundred years of the apostolic age, and must be an unexceptionable witness. What then is his testimony? Simply that he took charge of the church in connection with the apostles, for such must the term uɛrά imply, if it means any thing. This use of this preposition, however, is not common, and the authenticity of the passage is doubtful, διαδέχεται δὲ ——τὴν ἐκκλησίαν μετὰ τῶν αποστόλων. He remained chiefly at Jerusalem, the centre of operation for all of the apostles, and had, if you please, the immediate supervision of this church in connection with the other apostles. Aside from the Scriptures, therefore, nothing

31 Euseb., Eccl. Hist., 2, c. 23.

30 Euseb., Eccl. Hist., 2, c. 1. 32 Lib. 6, Ep. 14, p. 346.

33 Lib. 2, c. 1. 2, c. 23. 3, c. 5. 7, c. 19. Comment. ad Isac. 17: 5, Tom.

2, p. 422. Montfaucon, Collec. Nov. Pat. et Scrip. Graec., ed., Paris, 1706. 34 Catech., 4, Ep. 28, p. 65, ed. Tontée.

35 Haev., 78. Antidicomarianitar, § 5, p. 1039.

36 Hom. 38, in Ep. ad Corinth, Tom. 10, p. 355.

37 Catal. Script. Eccl., s. v. Jacob, frater Domini, Tom. 1, p. 170. Comment. in Ep. ad Gal. 1: 19. Tom. 9, p. 128.

38 Contra literas Petiliani, L. 2, c. 51, § 118, Tom. 9, p. 172.

appears from this writer to show that he exercised the independent authority of bishop over the church. After the rise of the hierarchy, the Episcopal fathers that have been mentioned may have interpreted the testimony of this author into a declaration of the Episcopal office of James. If so, we are at liberty to challenge the authority of these fathers on the point under consideration. Like them we have the historical record before us, and the means of forming an independent opinion.39

Indeed, antiquity itself, in the language of Milton, "hath turned over the controversy to that sovereign book which we had fondly straggled from." After refuting other traditions, he adds, "as little can your advantage be from Hegesippus, an historian, of the same time, not extant, but cited by Eusebius. His words are, that in every city all things so stood in his time as the law and the prophets, and our Lord did preach.' If they stood so, then stood not bishops above presbyters. For what our Lord and his disciples taught, God be thanked, we have no need to go learn of him."40

6

The churches, as we have already seen, were at this time entirely independent. They had no confederate relations, one toward another. They were, simply, any number of believers associated together by common consent, for the enjoyment of the word and ordinances of their common Lord. Besides their union of faith and fellowship of spirit, they had one bond of union in the instruction, care and oversight which the apostles exercised in common over all the churches. This general supervision the apostles exercised conjointly, and thus formed a common bond of connection between the different fraternities; going themselves, from place to place, confirming the churches, and reporting to each the faith and piety of such

39 Rothe, Anfänge der Christ. Kirch., 1, 263-272.

40 Prose Works, Vol. I, p. 86.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »