Page images
PDF
EPUB

have successors in that spiritual commission which empowered them to govern and perpetuate the Church, is not inconsistent with reason, and that they had such is capable of the most satisfactory demonstration.. "In some things," says the judicious Hooker, " every Presbyter, in some things 66 only Bishops, in some things neither the one nor the other are the Apostles' suc66 cessors. The Apostles were sent as spe-. "cial chosen eye-witnesses of Jesus Christ, "from whom immediately they received "their whole embassage, and their com"mission to be the principal first founders "of an house of God, consisting as well of "Gentiles as of Jews. In this there are not "after them any other like unto them; and

66

66

yet the Apostles have now their succes"sors upon earth, their true successors, "if not in the largeness, surely in the kind "of that episcopal function, whereby they "had power to sit as spiritual ordinary judges, both over laity and over clergy, "where Christian Churches were esta"blished *."

66

x Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, book vii. 8vo. edit. vol. iii. p. 123.

"I doe

Indeed that general and extensive commission, which the Apostles received, to "preach the Gospel to every creature"," and which at first sight may seem to distinguish them so immeasurably from ordi

"I doe not denie," says Bilson, "but many things in "the Apostles were personall, given them by God's wis"dome, for the first spreading of the faith, and planting " of the Churches amongst Jewes and Gentiles, that all "nations might be converted unto Christ by the sight "of their miracles, and directed by the truth of their "doctrine; yet that all their gifts ended with their "lives, and no part of their charge and power remained "to their after-commers; may neither be confessed by 66 us nor affirmed by any, unless we mean wholly to sub"vert the Church of Christ........ The Scriptures once "written suffice all ages for instruction: the miracles "then done are for ever a most evident confirmation of "their doctrine; the authoritie of their first calling "liveth yet in their succession; and time and travail, joyned with God's graces, bring pastours at this pre"sent to perfection; yet the Apostles charge to teach, "baptize, and administer the Lord's Supper, to bind "and loose sinnes in heaven and in earth, to impose "hands for the ordaining of pastours and elders;—these

66

σε

parts of the apostolicke function and charge are not "decaied and cannot be wanting in the Church of God. "There must either be no Church, or else these must "remaine; for without these no Church can continue." Bilson on the Perpetual Government of Christ's Church, chap. ix. p. 105.

y Mark xvi. 15.

dinary Bishops, appears to have been gradually restrained by themselves, as the circumstances of the Church admitted or required it, to some resemblance to a local Episcopacy. Ecclesiastical historians not only testify that they divided the world amongst them for the separate exercise of their ministry, but give the names of the particular 2 countries assigned to each. And although the information afforded in the New Testament of the proceedings of the Apostles in converting the nations, with the exception of St. Paul, is extremely scanty, we may discover evident traces of this fact in his Epistles ;-as for instance, from the unwillingness which he expresses to "stretch himself beyond his measure,"

2 Ηνίκα οἱ ἀπόστολοι κλήρῳ τὴν εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πορείαν ἐποιοῦντο, Θωμᾶς μὲν τὴν Πάρθων ἀποστολὴν ὑπεδέχετο· Ματθαῖος δὲ τὴν Αιθιοπίαν. Βαρθολομαῖος δὲ ἐκληροῦτο τὴν συνημμένην ταύτη Ινδίαν. Socrates, Eccles. Hist. lib. i. cap. xv.

Θωμᾶς μὲν, ὡς ἡ παράδοσις περιέχει, τὴν Παρθίαν εἴληχεν· ̓Ανδρέας δὲ τὴν Σκυθίαν· Ἰωάννης τὴν ̓Ασίαν· πρὸς οὓς καὶ διατρίψας ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τελευτᾷ. Πέτρος δὲ ἐν Πόντῳ καὶ Γαλατία, καὶ Βιθυνία, Καππαδοκίᾳ τὲ καὶ ̓Ασίᾳ κεκηρυχέναι τοῖς ἐκ διασπορᾶς Ιουδαίοις ἔοικεν· ὃς καὶ ἐπὶ τέλει ἐν Ῥώμῃ γενόμενος ἀνεσκολοπίσθη κατὰ κεφαλῆς, οὕτως αὐτὸς ἀξιώσας παθεῖν. Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib. iii. cap. 1.

and "boast in another man's line;" and by comparing the decisive authority with which he addresses those whom he had himself converted, and whom he considered under his own peculiar jurisdiction, with the mere exhortations to which he confines himself, when writing to those over whom he had no such claims. It should appear also, from the early histories, that the Apostles,

a 2 Cor. x. 14-16.

b"Every Apostle exercised a particular authority "over the Churches which he had planted. This is the reason of the difference between such of St. Paul's "Epistles as were written to Churches converted by "himself, and those to others. To the former he writes "in a style of command and authority; but in these "last he only exhorts, and persuades, and intreats. Thus "in his Epistles to the Corinthians he asserts his own "particular authority over them, exclusive of all others, "which he grounds on his having converted them...... "He presently adds that, if they proved refractory, he "would come with a rod to chastise them. (1 Cor. iv. "14-21.) Again, If I am not an Apostle to others, yet “doubtless I am to you.” (Ibid. ix. 2.)...................... And when "he writes to the Romans, the Colossians, and the He"brews, who had been converted by others, there is no " mention made of commanding, but he instructs and "exhorts them, as one who had obtained grace to be an "Apostle to all nations, but had no particular authority over them." Potter on Church Government, p. 86-88.

66

towards the close of their lives, and when the Church had received its more settled form, fixed their residence in particular places, as St. John at Ephesus, St. Peter first at Antioch, and afterwards at Rome, and St. James at Jerusalem.

с

St. James, indeed, is not only described as the first Bishop of Jerusalem by the unvarying testimony of the 'primitive writers, but, what is more to our immediate purpose, this fact receives the most satisfactory illustration from the sacred volume. From the manner in which his name is incidentally mentioned in the Acts and Epistles, we may collect, not only that he remained at Jerusalem after the dispersion of the other Apostles, but that he exercised supreme authority there. When St. Paul went up to Jerusalem, three years after his con

с

c Origen. Hom. vi. in Lucam.

d Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. ii. c. 1. Epiph. adv. Hæreses, lib. ix. edit. Paris. p. 119. The episcopal chair or throne, originally used by St. James, had been handed down to his successors in the see of Jerusalem, and was still preserved and held in high veneration when Eusebius wrote his history;—in the early part of the fourth century after Christ. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. vii. c. 19.

« PreviousContinue »