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them all indiscriminately. The constant tumults from within and from without, which agitated the church in the time of the apostles, may have given to such a one opportunity to exercise his influence the more efficiently; so that, at such a time, the controlling influence of one in this capacity may have been very salutary to the church. This change in the relation of the presbyters to each other was not the same in all the churches, but varied according to their different circumstances. It may have been as early as the latter part of the life of John, when he was sole survivor of the other apostles, that one, as president of this body of presbyters, was distinguished by the name of iníσxonos, bishop. There is, however, no evidence that the apostle himself introduced this change; much less, that he authorized it as a perpetual ordinance for the future. Such an ordinance is in direct opposition to the spirit of that apostle. 3

ἐπίσκοπος,

3 In the angels of the churches in the seven epistles of the Apocalypse, I cannot recognize the 3 of the Jewish synagogue transferred to the Christian church. The application appears to me to be altogether arbitrary. Nor again can I discover in the angel of the church, the bishop, addressed as the representative of this body of believers. How much must we assume as already proved, which yet is entirely without evidence, in assigning to this early period the rise of such a monarchical system of government, that the bishop alone can be put in the place of the whole church? In this phraseology I recognize rather a symbolical application of the idea of guardian angels, similar to that of the Ferver of the Parsees, as a symbolical representation and image of the whole church. Such a figurative representation corresponds well with the poetical and symbolical character of the book throughout. It is also expressly said that the address is to the whole body of the churches.

This change in the mode of administering the government of the church, resulting from peculiar circumstances, may have been introduced as a salutary expedient, without implying any departure from the purity of the Christian spirit. When, however, the doctrine is, as it gradually gained currency in the third century, that the bishops. are, by divine right, the head of the church, and invested with the government of the same, that they are the successors of the apostles, and by this succession inherit apostolical authority, that they are the medium through which, in consequence of that ordination which they have received, merely in an outward manner, the Holy Ghost, in all time to come, must be transmitted to the churchwhen this becomes the doctrine of the church, we certainly must perceive, in these assumptions, a strong corruption of the purity of the Christian system. It is a carnal perversion of the true idea of the Christian church. It is falling back into the spirit of the Jewish religion. Instead of the Christian idea of a church, based on inward principles of communion, and extending itself by means of these, it presents us with the image of one, like that under the Old Testament, resting in outward ordinances, and, by external rites, seeking to promote the propagation of the kingdom of God. This entire perversion of the original view of the Christian church was itself the origin of the whole system of the Roman Catholic religion,— the germ from which sprung the popery of the dark ages.

We hold, indeed, no controversy with that class of Episcopalians who adhere to the Episcopal system above

mentioned as well adapted, in their opinion, to the exigencies of their church. We would live in harmony with them, notwithstanding their mistaken views of the true form of the church, provided they denounce not other systems of church government. But the doctrine of the absolute necessity of the Episcopal as the only valid form of government, and of the Episcopal succession of bishops above mentioned, in order to a participation in the gifts of the Spirit, all this we must regard as something foreign to the true idea of the Christian church. It is in direct conflict with the spirit of protestantism; and is the origin, not of the true catholicism of the apostles, but of that of the Romish church. When, therefore, Episcopalians disown, as essentially deficient in their ecclesiastical organization, other protestant churches which evidently have the spirit of Christ, it only remains for us to protest, in the strongest terms, against their setting up such a standard of perfection for the Christian church. Far be it from us, who began with Luther in the spirit, that we should now desire to be made perfect by the flesh. Gal. 3: 3.

DR. A. NEANDER.

Berlin, April 28th, 1843.

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THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.

CHAPTER I.

SUMMARY VIEW.

THE Christian church derived its earliest form from a small society of believers, who were united together by no law but that of the love they felt to one another, and to their common Lord.1 After his ascension, they continued to meet, in singleness of heart, for the mutual interchange of sympathy and love, and for the worship of their Lord and Master. The government which, in process of time, the fraternity adopted for themselves, was free and voluntary. Both their rites of worship and rules of government were few and simple. Each individual church possessed the rights and powers inherent in an independent popular assembly; or, to adopt the language of another, "The right to enact their laws, and the entire government of the church, was vested in each individual association of which the church was composed, and was exercised by the members of the same, in connection with their overseers and teachers, and, when the apostles were present, in com

1 Neander's Apost. Kirch., Vol. I, c. 1. Rothe, Anfänge der Christ. Kirch., I, p. 141-2.

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