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attention of the churches to the election of their own presbyters; just as in the instructions which Paul gives to Titus and to Timothy, respecting the appointment of presbyters and deacons for the churches of Ephesus and Crete respectively, the participation of these churches in the appointment is of necessity pre-supposed. For, "from the fact, that Paul, in committing to his pupils, as to Timothy and Titus, the organization of new churches, or of those which had fallen into many distractions, committed to them also the appointment of the presbyters and deacons, and directed their attention to the qualifications requisite for such offices,-from this fact we are by no means to infer, that they themselves effected this alone, without the participation of the churches. Much more, indeed, does the manner in which Paul himself is elsewhere wont to address himself to the whole church, and to claim the cooperation of the whole, authorize us to expect, that at least where there existed a church already established, he would have required their co-operation also in matters of common concern. But the supposition is certainly possible, that the apostle, in many cases, and especially in forming a new church, might think it best himself to propose to the church the persons best qualified for its officers, and such a nomination must naturally have had great weight. In the example of the family of Stephanus at Corinth, we see the members of the household first converted in the city, becoming, also, the first to fill the offices of the church.18 Neander also asserts, that this mode of election, by the whole body of the church, remained unimpaired in the third century.19
The foregoing views of Neander, together with the following extract from Mosheim, give us a clear view of the manner in which the elective franchise was exercised in the primitive church, through the first three centuries of
18 Apost. Kirch., Vol. I, c. 5, p. 194.
19 Neander's Allgem. Gesch., I, 323, seq. 340-342, 2d ed.
the Christian era. "To them (the multitude, or people) belonged the appointment of the bishop and presbyters, as well as of the inferior ministers,-with them resided the power of enacting laws, as also of adopting or rejecting whatever might be proposed in the general assemblies, and of expelling and again receiving into communion any depraved or unworthy members. In short, nothing whatever, of any moment, could be determined on, or carried into effect, without their knowledge and concurrence.”20
But the phrase itself, xegorovýσartes, may, with great probability, be understood to indicate that the appointment of these presbyters was by a public vote of the church.
1. This is the appropriate meaning of the term, zeigorovεiv, which is here used. It means, to stretch out the hand, to hold up the hand, as in voting; hence, to vote; to give one's vote, by holding up the hand. So it is rendered by Robinson, who, in the passage before us, translates it, to choose by vote, to appoint. Suidas also renders it by ἐκλεξάμενοι, having chosen. Such is the concurring authority of lexicographers.
2. This rendering is sustained by the common use of the term by early Christian writers. The brother who accompanied Paul in his agency to make charitable collections for the suffering Jews in Judea, was chosen of the churches for this service, where the same word is used, xεigorovnεis. "It will become you," says Ignatius to the church at Philadelphia, "as the church of God, to ordain, zeugotovñoαi, to choose some deacon to go there," i. e., to the church at Antioch.21
Again, to the church at Smyrna, "It will be fitting, and for the honor of God, that your church appoint, zeigotovñσai, elect some worthy delegate," &c.22
The council of Neocaesarea directs that a presbyter should not be chosen, μῆ χειροτονεῖσθω, before he is thirty years 20 De Rebus Christ. Saec., 1, §45. 21 Ad Phil. c. 10. 22 Ad Smyrn., c. 11.
old.23 The council of Antioch forbids a bishop to be chosen, zεigotovεTσow, without the presence of the synod, and of the metropolitan ;24 and the apostolical canons direct that a bishop must be chosen, zɛigorovεĩσow, by two or three bishops.25 Again, in the Greek version of the Codex Ecclesiæ Africanæ, the heading of the nineteenth canon is, that a bishop should not be chosen, χειροτονεῖσθαι, except by the multitude, ἀπὸ πολλῶν.26
The above examples all relate, neither to an official appointment or commission granted by another, nor to an ordination or consecration, but to an actual election by a plurality of voters. Do they not justify the supposition, that Paul and Barnabas, like the apostles in the case of Matthias, and of the seven deacons, led the church to a popular election of their presbyters?
3. This mode of appointment was the established usage of the churches, to which it may be presumed that Paul and Barnabas adhered, in the election of these presbyters. The appointment of Matthias the apostle, of the seven deacons, and of the delegates of the churches, as we have already seen, was by a public vote of the churches. And the same continued to be the authorized mode of appointment at the close of the apostolical age; as we learn from the epistle of Clement, cited above, who also rebukes the church of Corinth for rejecting from their office those presbyters who had been chosen in this manner.27 We have, then, evidence that this mode of election had been observed in the appointment of all, so far as we are informed, who had been invested with offices in the church. The testimony of Clement is, that the ministers of the churches established by the apostles were so appointed; from all which the inference is, that presbyters, like all other ecclesiastical officers, were appointed by vote of the church.
23 Conc. Neocæsar., c. 11.
25 Can. Apost., c. 1.
27 Ep. I, ad Corinth., § 44. See p. 65, note.
24 Conc. Antioch., c. 19.
26 Cited by Suicer, ad verbum.
4. This conclusion is sustained by the most approved authorities. According to Suicer, the primary and appropriate signification of the term is, to denote an election made by the uplifting of the hand, and particularly denotes the election of a bishop by vote. "In this sense," he adds, "it continued for a long time to be used in the church, denoting not an ordination or consecration, but an election." 28 Grotius,29 Meyer,30 and De Wette 31 so interpret the passage, to say nothing of Beza, Böhmer, Rothe and others.
To the same effect is also the following extract from Tindal. "We read only of the apostles constituting elders by the suffrages of the people, Acts 14: 23, which, as it is the genuine signification of the Greek word, χειροτονήσαντες, so it is accordingly interpreted by Erasmus, Beza, Diodati, and those who translated the Swiss, French, Italian, Belgic, and even English Bibles, till the Episcopal correction, which leaves out the words, by election, as well as the marginal notes, which affirm that the apostles did not thrust pastors into the church through a lordly superiority, but chose and placed them there by the voice of the congregation."32 Tyndale's translation is as follows. "And when they had ordened them seniours, by eleccion, in every congregacion, after they had preyde and fasted, they commennd them to God, on whom they beleved." In view of the whole, must we not conclude, that presbyters, like all other ecclesiastical officers, were elected in the apostolical churches by the suffrages of the people? 33 And is not all this sufficient to justify the ren
28 Thesaurus, Eccl., v. xɛigotovέw.
32 Rights of the Church, p. 358.
33 "It may not have occurred to some of our readers," says the Edinburgh Review, "that the Greek word, έxxλŋola, which we translate church, was the peculiar term used to denote the general assembly of the people in the old democracies, and that it essentially expresses a popularly constituted meeting, and that such, in a great measure, was the original constitution of the Christian society."-Baudry's Selections, V, p. 319.
29, 30, 31 Comment. ad locum.
dering above given, though the term be used to denote also either an official appointment, or the laying on of hands?
2. The historical argument from the early Fathers.
When from the writings of the apostles we turn to the records of history, we find evidence sufficient to show that the churches continued, even after the rise of Episcopacy, to defend and to exercise the right of election, that great principle which is the basis of religious liberty.
The earliest and most authentic authority on this subject, after that of the Scriptures themselves, is derived from Clement of Rome, contemporary with some of the apostles. This venerable father, in his epistle to the church at Corinth, about A. D. 96, or, according to Bishop Wake, “ between the 60th and 70th year of Christ,” speaks of the regulations which were established by the apostles, for the appointment of others to succeed them after their decease. This appointment was to be made with the consent and approbation of the whole church, συνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης, grounded on their previous knowledge of the qualifications of the candidate for this office. This testimony clearly indicates the active co-operation of the church in the appointment of their ministers.34 It may have been
34 The passage has been already cited, but it is here given at length, with the title of C. J. Hefele :-" Apostolorum institutio, ne de munere sacerdotali contentio fiat. Legitime electos ac recte viventes de munere suo
dejicere nefas. Καὶ οἱ ἀπόςολοι ἡμῶν ἔγνωσαν διὰ τῷ κυρίε ἡμῶν ̓Ιησῦ Χριςᾶ, ὅτι ἔρις ἔςαι ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματος τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς. Διὰ ταύτην ἦν τὴν αἰτίαν πρόγνωσιν εἰληφότες τελείαν κατέςησαν τὰς προειρημένες, καὶ μεταξὺ ἐπινομὴν δεδώκασιν, ὅπως, ἐὰν κοιμηθῶσιν, διαδέξωνται ἑτεροι δεδοκιμασμένοι ἄνδρες τὴν λειτεργίαν αὐτῶν. Τὸς ἦν καταςαθέντας ὑπ ̓ ἐκείνων, ἢ μεταξὺ ὑφ ̓ ἑτέρων ἐλλογίμων ἀνδρῶν, συνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης, καὶ λειτεργήσαντῆς ἀμέμπτως τῷ ποιμνίῳ τῷ Χριςῦ μετὰ ταπεινοφροσύνης, ἡσύχως καὶ ἀβαναύσως,μεμαρτυρημένους τε πολλοῖς χρόνοις ὑπὸ πάντων, τέτες & δικαίως νομίζομεν ἀποβαλέσθαι τῆς λειτεργίας. ̔Αμαρτία γὰρ ἐ μικρὰ ἡμῖν ἔξαι, ἐὰν τὸς ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἀποβάλωμεν.