Page images

crifice. As for the people, when they hear the name, it draweth no more their minds to any cogitation of sacrifice, than the name of a senator or an alderman causeth them to think upon old age; or to imagine, that every one so termed, must needs be ancient, because years were respected in the first nomination of both. Wherefore, to pass by name, let them use what dialect they will; whether we call it a priesthood, a presbytership, or a ministry, it availeth not: although in truth, the word presbyter doth seem most fit, and in propriety of speech more agreeable than priest, with the drift of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ."

When Mr. Hooker speaks of the fathers, it is here supposed, that he expresses himself generally; and without a view to the distinction between the earliest and those which followed. Further, it is supposed, that the preference given by him to the name of " presbyter," was owing to its being more definite: the name of "priest" being also applied to a character of another description. Still, the two names originate in a Greek word, never confounded with what denotes an offerer of sacrifice.

It may be proper to add, that the institutions of the Church of England and of this Church are, on the present subject, precisely what they were, when Mr. Hooker wrote as above.

The author, in going into the discussion of the present subject, has been influenced by the following


First: The contrary theory has the effect of adding to the difficulty of a sufficient understanding of the institution of the Lord's Supper. It is true, that the subject of the Jewish sacrifices, is well worthy of the attention of Christians. Yet, as people of an ordinary measure of information have not, like people of the same description among the Jews, the mean of knowledge which consists in the incorporation of the subject in question with habitual practices in life; the connecting of it with the Lord's Supper encreases the discouragement, which is the well known result of the

apprehension, that the party is not sufficiently informed of the tendency of the transaction, in which he or she is solicited to engage.

Secondly: Concern for the respectability of the clerical character, disposes to a rejection of whatever rests its legitimate claims on a wrong foundation; although it should seem to aid them. When the untenableness of the foundation is detected, there is danger of an abandonment of all belief in an affirmed heavenly origin, requiring to be bolstered up by authorities, which have no bearing on the subject. It is probable, that no distinction will be made between unwarranted claims, and those which are clearly sanctioned by the word of God.

Thirdly: It is here believed, that many of the untenable doctrines which have intruded into the Christian Church-especially those connected with the Eucharist-had their foundation in part laid in the theory here objected to. It had its origin in a mistaken exercise of piety. But it is not the only instance, in which the introducing into theology of opinions, which, although not pretended to be expressly taught in scripture, are thought to have a tendency to holy ends, has produced evils not at the time foreseen.

Fourthly: It has been an object, to show how little foundation exists for the affectation of wit, sometimes almost amounting to profaneness, although from the mouths of grave professors of religion, thrown at the name and office of priest. Even were the term understood in this Church, in the sense here objected to; contempt poured on it, would be misapplied: for our Saviour, notwithstanding the corruption pervading the priesthood of his day, always treated it with respect; however little of this he manifested towards the self-created sect of the Pharisees. But in truth, this Church means no more by the word, than what others mean by "Presbyter," or by "Elder;" provided they under

stand by those terms, what is to be understood in scripture, by the word indifferently so translated.

In the course of the discussion it has been acknowledged, that the here supposed errour concerning" Sacrifice," "Altar" and "Priest," arose at an early period of the history of the Christian Church. Perhaps this fact may seem to give countenance to the opinion, that Episcopal government began at the same period: to which, indeed, it has been referred. But there is this essential difference in the subjects; that while the one change must have taken place in all the Churches of Christendom at the same time, and in contrariety to rights held under a previously established system, and affecting all orders of persons; the other appears at first in the closet lucubrations of the few writers, whose works have been handed down; crept in gradually; and began in the literal application of language, which had been all along and may be now figuratively used on the respective points. Still, it would have been well to have met the innovation with the maxim,* which counsels the opposing of an erroneous theory in the beginning. In England, the doctrine which has been argued against, was completely put down at the reformation. If in later times, the notion has been entertained by some of the clergy of the Church of England, it has not crept into her publick institutions.

Archbishop Laud, and the ruling Churchmen of his day, have been accused of endeavours to restore the very system, against which this section is directed. Doubtless, the belief of the existence of such a design, contributed to the disorders of that period, and to the temporary downfal of the established Church: and the apprehension of danger was much countenanced by some practices attempted to be introduced, without any authority of the Rubricks; particularly bowing towards the altar.

* Obsta Principiis.

But that the persons now contemplated, did not carry their designs to an extent inconsistent with the principles here maintained, appears in the unequivocal fact, that in preparing a liturgy for the Church of Scotland, for "Priest" they put " Presbyter;" which accordingly is still found in the said liturgy. The above fact is stated by the learned Selden, in his treatise "De Synod, Vet. Ebræorum."* Be it, as Selden intimates, that this was done to reconcile the Scotch to an unpopular measure. Still, the agents were not so indiscreet, as to forfeit all pretensions to consistency in their religious system. If there should be alleged the cotemporary zeal manifested, to change the position of the Communion Tables; the reason assigned, was to prevent an irreverent use of them: and the point pressed was, not to make altars, but to place the tables where the altars formerly stood. The object of these remarks is to show, that however exceptionable some measures of that day may be considered, and are here thought to have been; there was no such extravagant scheme proposed, or even contemplated, as what would have been in contrariety to the principles maintained in this section.

The author would lament an approach to the opposite theory, among the clergy and other members of this Church; as having a threatening aspect on her peace.

* Vol. iii. lib. i. p. 408.




Question of the Supremacy of St. Peter-Passages of Scripture.-Succession to the Supremacy.--St. Peter not Bishop of Rome. His Supremacy, if it existed, did not descend. -Councils.-Remarks on the Claim.--The temporal Authority affirmed by some.

ON this subject, there are two distinctions which ought in reason to be taken; although they are often lost sight of in the argument on the other side. The first, is between any priority of order possessed by St. Peter, and there being attached to it a supereminence of spiritual authority, above that of his Yellow apostles. The other, is between such an authority, had it existed, and the transmission of it along the line of the bishops of Rome. These shall be considered in their order.



Where the twelve disciples are professedly enumerated, it is said-"The first, Simon called Peter:" but it surely requires something beyond this, to constitute a ground of paramount authority.

In the lecture, there were explained the two passages in Matt. xvi. 18, and John, xxi. 15. and following. Concerning the former it was shown, that the rock on which the Church was to be built, is

See Lecture VII.

† Matt. x. 2.

« PreviousContinue »