« PreviousContinue »
man, though he should entertain an opinion contrary to our own.
For none of us constitutes himself a bishop of bishops, or forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying him, by a tyrannical terror, since every bishop has full power to determine for himself, and can no more be judged by others, than he can judge them. But we all wait for the judgment of Christ, who alone hath power to make us governors of his church, and to call us to an account for our administration." Ep. lxix. 68. lv. 3, 59. Un Eccl. 59.
According, therefore, to St. Cyprian, it is evident, first, that every bishop had a primacy in his own church, managed the balance of her government, and was judge of his own people. Secondly, that no bishop, not even the bishop of Rome, was superior to another bishop.* Thirdly, that this in
* The bishop of Rome is repeatedly called, by Cyprian his fellow bishop and colleague, and colleague is never applied to a presbyter. The title papa, which is now appropriated to the bishop of Rome, and used to denote his supremacy was at an early period of the church, common to all bishops. Thus the clergy directed their letters, to Cyprian, to pope Cyprian, or to the most blessed, and most glorious pope Cyprian. How would the advocates of popery have exulted, if the following expressions had been applied to Rome :
dependency of bishops was founded on each having his portion of the flock assigned to him, for the care of which, he was to be answerable to God alone.
I know that the church of Rome will be very unwilling to allow that she hath made any alteration, in the ancient faith, either by adding to it, or taking from it, or adulterating it with any novel mixtures, or that there was a possibility for her to do so, consistently with her singular prerogative of infallibility, but that innovations have been made is distinctly proved from the writings of her own prelates.
So early as about the close of the sixth century, Gregory the first, or great, as he is called, the most revered, and, in some respects, not undeservedly so, of all the Roman pontiffs, in a famous dispute with the bishop of constantinople, who had taken to himself the title of (Ecumenical, or universal bishop, objects to him, the arrogance and presumption of this claim, in words remarkable enough to be quoted :-“What wilt thou say to Christ, the head of the universal church, in the trial of the last judgment, who by the appellation of universal, dost endeavour to subject all his. members to thee? whom, I pray,
“Cæsarea, (says Nazianzen) is the mother of almost all churches, and the whole christian republic embraces and regards it, as the circle its centre.” Epist. ad. Cæt. “Think of the magnitude of the city, (Antioch,) says St. Chrysistom, that we speak not now of one or of two, or of ten souls, but of thousands without end, of the head of the whole world.” Hom, 3.
dost thou mean to imitate, in so perverse a word, but him, who despising legions of angels, constituted in fellowship with him, did endeavour to break forth unto the top of singularity, that he might both be subject to none, and alone be over all, who also said, I will ascend into heaven, and will exalt my throne above the stars, for what are thy brethren, all the bishops of the universal church, but the stars of heaven, to whom by this haughty word, thou desirest to prefer thyself, and to trample on their name, in comparison to thee? dost thou not say, I will climb into heaver Greg. Ep. iv. 38. Speaking again of title of uni al bishop, he calls it a title of novelty, error, impiety, full of poison, and contrary to the ancient canons."* This then, as bishop Patrick observes, is the difference between Protestants and Romans, “ we believe that which has been ever believed, they believe that which was never believed, (in comparison with the ancient faith,) till yesterday.”
Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, has written a history of the church, from the birth of Christ, to the year 325. He has quoted from more than twenty-three writers of the three first centuries, yet this industrious compiler of all passages relating to the original constitution of the church, and all ecclesiastical, transactions, never once names any superior authority belonging to the see of Rome. Nor is there the least intimation of it in the following writers, whose works remain to this day,—Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus, Clemens Alexandrinus,
Pope Boniface III. had not, it seems, the scruples of his predecessor Gregory. He readily accepted, or rather importunately begged the proud title of universal bishop from the emperor Phocas, and transmitted it to all his successors.
Minutius Felix, Origen, Arnobius, and Lactantius.
The fathers of the three first ages, are, in the opinion of the best divines, sufficient to shew the sense of antiquity, on any controverted point, I have availed myself of their testimony, and I hope I have clearly shewn, that the universal jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome, was totally unknown to the primitive christians. I shall therefore conclude my remarks, upon the universal jurisdictionof the see of Rome, with the confession of Mr. Bower, who had been once a jesuit, but died in communion with the reformed church. Speaking of his lives of the popes, he says :--" This work I undertook some years since at Rome, and brought it down to the close of the second century. As I was then a most zealous champion for the pope's supremacy, my chief design was to ascertain that supremacy, by shewing, that from the apostles' time to the present, it had been acknowledged by the catholic church. But, alas ! I soon perceived, that I had undertaken more, than it was in my power to perforni, nay, while in order to maintain this