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evangelic manna by seasoning our mouths with the tainted scraps and fragments of an unknown table, and searching among the verminous and polluted rags dropped overworn from the toiling shoulders of time, with these deformedly to quilt and interlace the entire, the spotless and undecaying robe of truth, the daughter, not of time, but of heaven, only bred up here below in Christian hearts between two grave and holy nurses, the doctrine and discipline of the gospel." 106

But we will suppose these epistles to be the genuine productions of Ignatius, and that he himself is one of those “apostolic men who drank in Christianity from the living lips of the apostles themselves." Grant it all. What then? Do not these epistles testify explicitly, clearly, fully, "to this superiority of bishops in government and ordination over presbyters and deacons?" Not in the least. What, we ask, was the diocese of these bishops of Ignatius's epistles? Nothing but single parishes. What were these venerable bishops themselves? Nothing more than the pastors of a single congregation. They were merely parish ministers, parochial bishops; and, though bearing the name of bishop, they were as unlike a modern diocesan as can well be imagined. This fact deserves a careful consideration. Let us not deceive ourselves with a name, a title. We are not inquiring after names, but things. Because we read of primitive bishops in the early church, must we suppose that each, of necessity, had the superiority, or enjoyed the proud distinction of the modern dignitary of the church who bears the same title? The name determines nothing in regard to the official rank and duties of a primitive bishop. Give to a congregational or presbyterian minister this title, and you have made him truly a primitive bishop. These ancient dignitaries, down to the third century, and in many instances, even later,

106 Milton's Prelatical Episcopacy. Prose Works, Vol. I, pp. 79, 80.

exercised no wider jurisdiction, and performed no higher offices, than a modern presbyter, or any pastor of a single parish or congregation.

In support of the foregoing representation, we have to offer the following considerations:

(a) By all primitive writers, the bishop's charge is denominated invariably a church, a congregation; never in the plural, churches or congregations.

(b) It is admitted by Episcopalians themselves, that the diocese of a primitive bishop comprised only a single church.

(c) The Christians under the charge of these ancient bishops, all were accustomed to meet in one place, like the people of a modern parish or congregation.

(d) All under his charge were, in many instances, as familiarly known unto their bishop himself, as the people of a parish to their pastor.

(e) So many bishops are found in a single territory, of limited extent, that no one could have exercised a jurisdiction beyond the bounds of a single parish.

(f) The charge of a primitive bishop is known, in many instances, not to have equalled that of a modern presbyter or pastor.

(a) By all primitive writers, the bishop's charge is denominated invariably a church, a congregation; never in the plural, churches or congregations.

The cure of a primitive bishop is never, in a single instance, represented to comprise several congregations, like that of a modern diocesan; but always is restricted to a single body of Christians, denominated a church. As the epistles of Paul the apostle are addressed to the church at Rome, at Corinth, at Ephesus, &c., so those of the apostolical fathers, Clement, Polycarp and Ignatius are

addressed, in like manner, to a single church-to the church at Corinth, at Philippi, at Ephesus, at Smyrna, &c. Neither is the word church ever used by the early fathers in a generic sense, for a national or provincial church, as we speak of the church of England, or of Scotland. The fact is so indisputable, that no time need be wasted in proof of it. But it is worthy of particular attention, as illustrative of the nature of a bishop's office. It presents his duties and his office in total contrast with those which prelacy assigns to bishops. It reveals the primitive bishop to us merely as a parish minister.

"Now as one bishop is invariably considered, in the most ancient usage, as having only one ɛxxhŋσia, it is manifest that his inspection at first was only over one parish. Indeed, the words congregation and parish are, if not synonymous, predicable of each other. The former term relates more properly to the people as actually congregated, the other relates to the extent of ground which the dwelling houses of the members of one congregation occupy. Accordingly, the territory to which the bishop's charge extended, was always named, in the period I am speaking of, in Greek nagoala, in Latin parochia, or rather paracia, which answers to the English word parish, and means properly a neighborhood."107

In the sense above stated, the word in question is said to be used at least six hundred times in the writings of Eusebius alone. Such continued to be the bishop's charge down to the fourth century.

(b) It is admitted by Episcopalians themselves, that the diocese of a primitive bishop comprised only a single


On this point the authority of the late Dr. Burton, 107 Campbell's Lectures, pp. 106, 107.

regius professor at Oxford, is equally explicit and unexceptionable. In his history of the church at the beginning of the second century, he says:-"The term diocese was not then known; though there may have been instances where the care of more than one congregation was committed to a single bishop, of which we have a very early example in all the Cretan churches being entrusted by Paul to Titus. The name which was generally applied to the flock of a single pastor, was one from which our present word parish is derived, which signified his superintendence over the inhabitants of a particular place." 108

Again, at the commencement of the third century, "The term diocese, as has been observed in a former chapter, was of later introduction, and was borrowed by the church from the civil constitution of the empire. At the period which we are now considering, a bishop's diocese was more analogous to a modern parish, and such was the name which it bore. Each parish had, therefore, its own bishop, with a varying number of presbyters, or priests and deacons." 109

"As for the word diocese, by which the bishop's flock is now expressed, I do not remember that ever I found it used in this sense by any of the ancients. But there is another word still retained by us, by which they frequently denominated the bishop's cure; and that is parish,"110 Every bishop had but one congregation or church. This is a remark which deserves your particular notice; as it regards an essential point in the constitution of the primitive church, a point which is generally admitted by those. who can make any pretensions to the knowledge of Christian antiquities.... Now as one bishop is invariably considered

108 History of the Christian Church, p. 179. 109 Ibid., pp. 263, 264. 110 King's Primitive Church, p. 15.

in the most ancient usage as having only one εκκλησία, church, it is manifest that his inspection, at first, was only one parish."111 Instead, therefore, of presiding over myriads of his fellow-men with authority, which even princes might envy, this your ancient bishop was nothing more than a humble parish minister, having the charge of some little flock over whom he had been duly appointed an overseer in the service of the chief Shepherd.

(c) The Christians, under the charge of these ancient bishops, all were accustomed to meet in one place, like the people of a modern parish or congregation.

This is incontrovertibly evident from the fathers of the second, and even of the third century, such as the writings of Ignatius,112 Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Cyprian. "Now, from the writings of those fathers, it is evident that the whole flock assembled in the same place. ềnɩ tò autò, with their bishop and presbyters, as on other occasions, so in particular, every Lord's-day, or every Sunday, as it was commonly called, for the purposes of public worship, hearing the Scriptures read, and receiving spiritual exhortations. The perseverance in this practice is warmly recommended by the ancients, and urged on all the Christian brethren, from the consideration of the propriety there is, that those of the same church and parish, and under the same bishop, should all join in one prayer and one supplication, as people who have one mind and one hope. For, it is argued, 'if the prayer of one or two have great efficacy, how much more efficacious must that be which is made by the bishop and the whole church. He, therefore, who doth not assemble with him is denomi

111 Campbell's Lectures, pp. 105, 106.

112 For a purpose like the present, we may safely appeal to Ignatius; for though the work may be reasonably suspected to have been interpolated to aggrandize the Episcopal order, it was never suspected of any interpolation with a view to lessen it.

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