Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XXIII

Article XXIII.

Of Ministering in the Congregation.

IT is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

De Vocatione Ministrorum.

NON licet cuiquam sumere sibi munus publice prædicandi, aut administrandi sacramenta in Ecclesia, nisi prius fuerit ad hæc obeunda legitime vocatus et missus. Atque illos legitime vocatos et missos existimare debemus, qui per homines, quibus potestas vocandi ministros, atque mittendi in Vineam Domini, publice concessa est in Ecclesia, cooptati fuerint, et asciti in hoc opus.

Section I. — History.

AFTER the Articles concerning the Church comes naturally this concerning the ministry.

The wording of the Article demands some attention. The first sentence is derived from the fourteenth Article of the Confession of Augsburg, as drawn up in 1531. That article runs: “De ordine Ecclesiastico docent, quod nemo debeat in Ecclesia publice docere, aut Sacramenta administrare, nisi rite vocatus.”[1]

In the XIII. Articles, supposed to have been agreed upon between the English and German divines, (A. D. 1538,) the Xth Article is: “De ministris Ecclesiæ docemus, quod nemo debeat publice docere, aut sacramenta ministrare, nisi rite vocatus, et quidem ab his, penes quos in ecclesia, juxta verbum Dei et leges ac consuetudines uniuscujusque regionis, jus est vocandi et admittendi.”[2]

The twenty-fourth of the XLII. Articles of 1552, is worded exactly as our present twenty-third, and evidently only slightly changed from the above-cited Article of 1538.[3]

As it now stands, it contains two parts: —

I. That no one may assume the office of the ministry without a lawful call and mission.

II. That calling and mission can only be given by certain authorities, who are the ministers of ordination.

The latter portion of the Article is somewhat vaguely worded: the reason for which is easily traced to the probable fact, that the original draught of the Article was agreed on in a conference between the Anglican and Lutheran divines. It would have been painful to the latter, if a strong assertion of the need of episcopal ordination had been inserted, when they were debarred from episcopal regimen. Hence it is but generally asserted, that lawful calling can only be given by those, “who have public authority in the Church to send labourers into the Vineyard.” But then we may observe, that the authority of the English Ordinal is expressly made the subject of Article XXXVI.; and to see the force of the latter on our present Article, we must have recourse to the Ordinal, as expressing the mind of the reformers on this subject.

One expression in this Article requires to be especially observed.

In the Confession of Augsburg, the XIII. Articles of 1538, and the Latin Articles of 1552, 1562, 1571, the word Ecclesia occurs twice. But in the English translations this word is rendered Congregation. To a modern reader, used to the language of Congregational dissenters, this translation has a different sound to that, which it must have had at the time of the Reformation. The ancient Church of the Jews is called “the Congregation of the Lord.” The XlXth Article defines the Church as a “Congregation of faithful men,” &c. Accordingly, the word Ecclesia, instead of being rendered Church, is rendered Congregation, meaning the whole Congregation of Christ’s people, i. e. the Church or Body of Christ. The more modern idea of a Congregational election of ministers had evidently not suggested itself, or the word would have been avoided.

We may now proceed to our history.

I. No one can question, that very early in the Church there existed a distinction widely marked between the Clergy (κλῆρος, κληρικοὶ, Clerici) and the Laity (λαὸς, Laici). The only doubt which can be raised, is, whether such a distinction was quite primitive, or came in, in the second and third centuries, through the ambition of ecclesiastics.

It is a most happy circumstance, that the very earliest of the Christian fathers, Clemens Romanus, the companion of St. Paul, has left us clear testimony on this head. Giving instructions concerning the duty of Christians towards those who minister to God, he first adduces the examples of the Jewish economy, in which the chief priest, and the Levite, have all their proper ministries, “and the layman is confined within the bounds of what is commanded to laymen.”[4] He then goes on to say, “The Apostles have preached to us from our Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ from God. Christ therefore was sent by God, the Apostles by Christ; so both were orderly sent according to the will of God . . . . Having received their commands . . . . and preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits of their conversions to be bishops and deacons over such as should afterwards believe, having first proved them by the Spirit.”[5] Then again, referring to the election of the seed of Aaron to the priesthood, in order to avoid contention,[6] he continues: “So likewise our Apostles knew by our Lord Jesus Christ, that there should contentions arise upon account of the ministry; And therefore, having a perfect foreknowledge of this, they appointed persons, as we have said before, and then gave direction, how, when they should die, other chosen and approved men should succeed in their ministry. Wherefore we cannot think that those may justly be thrown out of their ministry who were appointed by them, or afterwards chosen by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church . . . . Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before those times, have obtained a faithful and perfect dissolution; for they have no fear, lest any one should turn them out of the place which is now appointed for them.”[7]

Here, in the very earliest of the fathers, we have plainly the distinction of clergy and laity, the clergy spoken of at one time as presbyters, at another as bishops and deacons; their mode of appointment in succession from the Apostles, and the duty of the people to be submissive and affectionate to them.

Ignatius speaks in language so strong, of the necessity of obedience to bishops, presbyters, and deacons, that the very strength of the expressions has been the chief reason for doubting the genuineness of his epistles. The seven shorter epistles, since Bishop Pearson’s able defence of them, have generally been admitted to be genuine. The late discovery of a Syriac translation of three of them has again opened the question; their learned editor and translator contending that the Syriac represents the true text, and that even the shorter Greek epistles, which are longer than the Syriac, have suffered from interpolation. This is no place to enter into a controversy of such extent; it is, however, satisfactory to find, that the short Syriac epistles, as they contain the most important testimonies to the great doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation,[8] so do they contain most strong and unmistakable language on the ministry and the three orders of the ministry: “Give heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. My soul be for those[9] who are subject to the bishop, presbyters, and deacons: may I have my portion with them in God.”[10]

Irenæus speaks distinctly of successions of presbyters in the Church from the time of the Apostles;[11] says, that he was able to reckon up those who had been made bishops by the Apostles, and their successors even to his own time;[12] and recounts the succession of bishops at Rome from St. Peter and St. Paul, and at Smyrna from St. Polycarp;[13] to which successions he attaches deep importance.

Clement of Alexandria distinguishes the presbyter and deacon from the layman,[14] and the lay from the priestly.[15] He uses the term κλῆρος, clergy;[16] and speaks of the three degrees in the Church militant, of bishops, presbyters, and deacons,[17] which he compares to the angelic orders in Heaven.[18]

Tertullian bears testimony to the existence of a distinction between clergy and laity in his day; and charges the heretics with confounding the offices of layman and cleric.[19] The three orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, are enumerated together;[20] and he tells us that the chief priest, i. e. the bishop, had the right to baptize, as also had presbyters and deacons, but not without the authority of the bishop.[21]

He speaks of receiving the Eucharist only from the presbyters.[22] The office of the bishop was, according to him, of apostolic institution; and in the Catholic Church the successions of the bishops could be traced to the Apostles, as the succession at Smyrna from Polycarp, placed there by St. John, that at Rome from Clemens, placed there by St. Peter.[23]

It is true that Tertullian claims for all Christians, that they are priests, and contends that, in places where there are no clergy, laymen may exercise the priestly offices, may baptize, and even celebrate the Eucharist. But this is only in case of extreme necessity; his strong assertion of this is in a tract, written after he had seceded from the Church; and, even allowing the utmost possible weight to the passage, it does not prove the non-existence of a distinct order of the clergy, but only that, in case of absolute necessity, that distinction was not to be observed.[24]

Origen is very express on the office of the clergy,[25] on the power of the keys as committed to them,[26] on the duty of obedience to them.[27]

We are now arrived at the Cyprianic age, when no one doubts that the distinction between lay and cleric was strongly marked and much insisted on. Some have contended, that the distinction was not from the first: but none can deny, that by this time it was universally accepted. Hilary the deacon, whose commentaries on St. Paul’s epistles are appended to the works of St. Ambrose, is indeed cited as saying that, in the beginning, in order to increase the Church, the power to preach and baptize was given to all, but that, when the Church spread abroad, a more regular constitution was ordained, so that none of the clergy were permitted to intrude into offices not committed to themselves.[28] But this does not prove even that Hilary thought the distinction of lay and cleric not to be Apostolical. It is most probable from the context, that by the word all, omnibus, he means not all the faithful, but all the clergy; who at first performed all sacred functions indiscriminately, but afterwards were limited according to their distinctions of bishop, presbyter, and deacon. And even if he meant that all the faithful had at first a ministerial commission; yet still he clearly intended to fix the more regular constitution of the Church to the Apostolic age, before the close of which the Church might be said to have spread itself everywhere, and therefore needed regular establishment.[29] So that this passage makes nothing against the Apostolical origin of the order of clergy, and their distinction from the laity.[30]

So necessary did the fathers consider the office of the ministry, that St. Jerome tells us, “There is no Church where there are not priests.”[31] And St. Chrysostom says, “Since the Sacraments are necessary to salvation, and all these things are performed by the hands of the priesthood, how, without them, shall any man be able to avoid the fire of hell, or to obtain the promised crown?”[32]

The opinions of Christians of all ages, and almost all sects, have been in favour of the necessity of a distinct call to the ministry, and of an order regularly set apart for the executing of that office. Luther condemns it as an error invented by the devil, that men should say that they have a talent from the Lord, and therefore must of necessity assume the office of preaching. They should wait, till they are called to the ministry. If their Master wants them, He will call them; “If they teach uncalled, it will not be without injury to themselves and their hearers; for Christ will not be with them.”[33] The Confession of Augsburg speaks of the ministry of the word and Sacraments as divinely instituted; condemns the Anabaptists, who teach that men can receive the Spirit, without the external word; and says, that none may minister the word, and Sacraments, not rightly called to it.[34] The Helvetic Confession of the Zuinglians declares the office of minister to be “ancient and ordained of God; not of recent, or of human ordination.”[35] Calvin says, that “no one must be accounted a minister of Christ, except he be regularly called. . . . If so great a minister as St. Paul dares not arrogate to himself to be heard in the Church, but because he has been ordained to this office by the Lord’s command, and faithfully discharges his duty, how great would be his impudence who should seek this honour destitute of both these qualifications!”[36]

The Church of England especially expresses her opinions in the Ordinal, where, besides the language of the Preface and the words of the Services themselves, it is ordered, that “There shall be a sermon declaring . . . . how necessary the order of priests is in the Church of Christ.”

Since the Reformation, sects have arisen which underrate the necessity of the ministry and of a call to it. The Anabaptists appear to have done this. The latter Remonstrants, as represented by Episcopius, seem to have thought a fluency of speech and acceptableness to the congregation a sufficient mission.[37] The Quakers, and several fanatical sects, investing all Christians with ministerial authority, have abrogated all distinction of lay and clerical. But these are not much to be considered in a history of religious opinions.

II. The Article next speaks of those ministers being lawfully called and sent, who derive their calling and mission from certain persons having public authority in the Church to call and to send.

It is necessary then to consider, whether there have always been certain persons invested with such public authority; who such persons were; and who are recognized as such by the English Church.

It is the plain record of all antiquity, that ordination was anciently conferred by the highest order of the ministry. This will probably be questioned by no one. We have seen that St. Clement, the earliest Christian writer except those of the new Testament, speaks of the Apostles as having appointed successors to themselves in the ministry and government of the Church. We have seen that Irenæus speaks of a regular succession from the Apostles in the Churches, and that he counts up the succession in the Churches of Rome and of Smyrna. A like testimony we have brought from Tertullian. The farther we proceed, the clearer the evidence becomes, that no ordinations took place, except by those who thus succeeded to the ministry of the Apostles, deriving their orders in direct descent from them.

The only difficulty which seems to occur is this. In the new Testament, it is conceded that Bishop (ἐπίσκοπος) and Presbyter (πρεσβύτερος) were synonymous and convertible terms. In after-ages we find them distinguished; the title Bishop being tied to the first, the title Presbyter to the second order of the ministry. Theodoret[38] and Hilary the deacon[39] tell us, that “the same persons were originally called indiscriminately bishops and presbyters, whilst those who are now called bishops, were called Apostles. But afterwards, the name Apostle was appropriated to such only as were Apostles indeed, and then the name Bishop was given to those who were before called Apostles.”[40] The question is, Was this really the state of the case from the first, or is it the invention of a later age? Were there always three orders of ministers? or originally but two, the aristocratical by degrees changing into a monarchical government? There have been many (such as Blondel, Daillé, Lord King, &c.) who have asserted, that there were but two orders, presbyters and deacons; that by degrees, where there were several presbyters, one was elected to preside over the rest; but that he was no more distinct from them, than the dean of a cathedral is from the rest of the chapter, or than the rector or vicar of a large parish is from the assistant curates and ministers of the various chapelries connected with it, — in short a ruling or presiding elder, but not a bishop. By degrees, they say, these ruling elders arrogated to themselves to be a superior order to their brethren, and claimed exclusively that authority to ordain and to execute discipline, which had before been vested in the whole body of the presbytery.

It is quite certain, that in the beginning of the third century, i. e. one hundred years after the Apostles, there existed in the Church the three orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. Thenceforward, in every part of the world whither Christianity had spread, no Church was to be found where bishops did not preside and ordain. They are well-known rules, that “what has been religiously observed by the Apostolical Churches, must appear to have been handed down from the Apostles themselves.”[41] And that, “what is held by the Universal Church, and not ordained by any council, but has always been retained in the Church, is to be believed to have come down from Apostolical authority.”[42] So then the burden of proof must lie with those who contend that a custom universally prevailing at a very early period was an innovation, and not a tradition.

Let us, however, see whether the chain of evidence is not complete even from the Apostles.

Clemens Romanus, it is true, mentions only bishops and deacons, and afterwards presbyters; from which it has been inferred that bishops and presbyters were still used indiscriminately for the same office, as in the new Testament. Yet his epistle contains at least inferential proof of the existence of three orders at the time he wrote. In the first place, he himself evidently writes with authority, as representing the whole Church in the great city of Rome. “The Church of God, which is at Rome, to the Church of God which is at Corinth.”[43] This exactly corresponds with what we are told by Irenæus and all subsequent testimonies, that Clement was bishop of Rome. Then, in speaking of the ministry as ordained by the Apostles, when they themselves were about to depart, and enjoining the laity to be observant of it, he specially compares the Christian clergy to the three orders of the Levitical priesthood. “The same care must be had of the persons that minister unto Him: for the chief priest has his proper services; and to the priests their proper place is appointed; and to the Levites appertain their proper ministries: and the layman is confined within the bounds of what is commanded to laymen.”[44] This, be it observed, is exactly the language of later fathers. In allusion to this resemblance the presbyters are constantly called sacerdotes; the bishop, summus sacerdos; the deacons, Levitæ. And it will facilitate our understanding of the whole question, if we bear in mind, that, as the high priest was still a priest, and only distinguished from the other priests by one or two points of official preeminence, so the fathers constantly speak of the bishop as still a presbyter (συμπρεσβύτερος, 1 Pet. v. 1), but as distinguished from the other presbyters by the power of ordination and jurisdiction.

If we believe the seven shorter epistles of Ignatius to be genuine, they abound in passages concerning the three orders of the ministry, so plain that no language can be stronger or more significant.[45] If, on the contrary, we incline to receive the epistles of the Syriac version, not as abbreviated, but as the genuine epistles, we have already seen, that they contain a passage in which subjection to the bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and especially to the bishop, is most earnestly and solemnly enjoined.[46]

In the account of the martyrdom of Ignatius, we are told that the cities and Churches of Asia sent their bishops, presbyters, and deacons to meet him.[47]

Hegesippus (ab. A. D. 158) relates of himself, that, as he was travelling to Rome, he communicated with many bishops, and especially speaks of having intercourse with Primus, the Bishop of Corinth. He also relates the succession of certain bishops of Rome. And speaks of Simon, the son of Cleopas, as second Bishop of Jerusalem.[48] Here we find the three great cities, Jerusalem, Rome, and Corinth, in each of which there must have been several presbyters, yet still each presided over by a single bishop.

Irenæus undoubtedly calls the same persons by the name of bishops and presbyters; but we should be misled by the mere indiscrimate use of names, if we concluded that therefore there was in his day no such thing as a church-officer superior to the general body of presbyters. On the contrary, we have already seen that he lays great stress on the power of tracing up the succession of ministers in the Churches unbroken to the Apostles; and this succession he traces, not by the whole body of presbyters in each, but by the single individuals at the head. Thus, he says, the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul gave the bishopric of Rome to Linus, to him succeeded Anacletus, to Anacletus Clemens, to Clemens Evarestus, to him Alexander, then Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherius. In the like manner he speaks of a regular descent of the heads of the Church of Smyrna from Polycarp.[49] Here it is evident, that the regular ordination and succession of doctrine in the Church is maintained, not by parity of presbyters, but by successive ordination of chief pastors, who in their turn had power to ordain others.

It has been already mentioned, that Clement of Alexandria considers “the degrees (αἱ προκοπαὶ) in the Church on earth of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, to be imitations of the angelic glory, and of that dispensation which is said to await those who live in righteousness according to the Gospel. These, according to the Apostle, being raised into the clouds, will first minister (διακονεῖν), then, receiving an advancement in glory, be enrolled in the presbytery until they come to the perfect man.”[50] Here it is evident that Clement alludes to the existence of three orders in the ministry, which might successively be passed through, and which he fancifully considers like the progressive degrees of glory hereafter. Elsewhere also he speaks of presbyters, bishops, and deacons, saying that there are various precepts or suggestions in the Scriptures pertaining to particular persons, “some for presbyters, some for bishops, some for deacons,”[51] &c.

The testimony of Tertullian has already been sufficiently adduced, when we were on the subject of the distinction of clergy and laity. He, more than once, enumerates the three orders.[52] In one instance he asserts that presbyters and deacons could not baptize without the authority of the bishop;[53] challenges heretics to trace, as the Catholics could, the succession of their bishops to the Apostles;[54] and complains that among heretics the offices of bishops, deacons, presbyters, and laics, were all confounded.[55]

Origen continually distinguishes between bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishop Pearson[56] has quoted ten passages from his writings, in seven of which the distinction is plainly marked, and the three orders are expressly enumerated.

All these writers lived within a hundred years of the Apostles. St. John is said to have died A. D. 100, and Origen to have been born A. D. 186. From the time of Origen the case admits of no question. The first fifty of the canons of the apostles use the word bishop thirty-six times, in appropriation to him, that is the ruler or president of the church, above the clergy and laity; twenty-four times the bishop is expressly distinguished from the presbyter; and fourteen times indicated as having particular care for government, jurisdiction, censures, and ordinations committed to him.[57] The first canon expressly enjoins, that a bishop be consecrated by two or three bishops. The second, that a presbyter or deacon be ordained by one bishop. The thirty-fifth forbids bishops to ordain out of their own dioceses. The thirty-seventh decrees synods of bishops. The thirty-eighth enjoins bishops to have the superintendence of all ecclesiastical affairs; and the thirty-ninth forbids presbyters and deacons to do anything without the knowledge of their bishop.[58]

Having now reached the age of Cyprian, when the existence of a regular diocesan episcopacy is not questioned by the most skeptical; if we look back on the testimonies above cited, it is surely not too much to assert, that for scarcely any of the undoubted events of ancient history does there exist anything like the weight of contemporary evidence that we have from the first, that, in the first century after the Apostolic age, there was a marked distinction between bishops, presbyters, and deacons; or that, if the names of bishops and presbyters were not always distinguished, there was still clearly a separation between the functions of the ordinary presbyter and those of the president, chief priest, or bishop of the Church. There is nothing like such evidence for the existence of the laws of Draco, or the usurpation of Pisistratus, of the kingdom of Crœsus, or the battle of Marathon, for the wars of Carthage, or the very being of such persons as Brennus, or Pyrrhus, or Hannibal.

In the age of Cyprian (i. e. about A. D. 250), we have abundant evidence as to the state of the Church. We know, for instance, that Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, had forty-four presbyters under him;[59] that Cyprian himself, in like manner, presided over a considerable body of presbyters. The latter never hesitates to claim supreme authority, under God, over his presbyters and deacons; and complains bitterly, if any of the presbytery give not due honour to him as their bishop.[60] The privileges of the presbytery were indeed carefully preserved to them; and we have no reason to believe that, at this early period, nearly so great an imparity prevailed, as we afterwards meet with. The dioceses were very small compared with their extent in modern times. One bishop generally had the care of one large town and its immediate suburbs: whence the original name of a diocese was not διοικήσις (diocese), but παροικία (parochia), a word not expressing, as of late times, a single congregation or parish, but implying the whole town and its immediate neighborhood; that is, such a precinct or district as a single bishop could govern with the assistance of his presbyters.[61] The power of bishops too over their presbyters was, in early times, limited in many ways. The Council of Carthage (A. D. 348) ordained, that three bishops should judge a deacon, and not less than six should censure a presbyter.[62] Presbyters were always looked on as assessors and counsellors to their bishop.[63] Bishops weighed all things by common advice, and did nothing but after deliberation, and with consent of their clergy.[64] Presbyters were considered as, equally with the bishops, invested with the dignity of the priestly office;[65] and in the African Churches and the Latin, though not in the East, all the presbyters present assisted the bishop in the ordination of a presbyter, by laying their hands on his head.[66]

Yet there is no example of ordination ever being intrusted to presbyters only. On one occasion, a presbyter of Alexandria, named Colluthus, pretended to act as a bishop, but a council of bishops, assembled at Alexandria under Hosius (A. D. 324), declared his ordinations null and void.[67]

Those who advocate the parity of bishops and presbyters, appeal to the language of St. Chrysostom and St. Jerome; who undoubtedly maintained with great earnestness the dignity of the office of presbyter, and esteemed it very little inferior to the episcopate. Yet their very words distinctly show, that in one point, and that the point now in question, the bishop had a power not intrusted to the presbyter. St. Chrysostom says, that “bishops excel presbyters only in the power of ordination.”[68] And St. Jerome asks, “what does a bishop which a presbyter does not, except ordaining?”[69] It is true that St. Jerome, arguing from the language of St. Paul to Timothy, contends that Episcopus and Presbyter originally designated the same office, and thinks that one was afterwards placed above the rest, to avoid schism in the Church. This, however, is evidently only his own private inference from Scripture. He relates indeed, that at Alexandria, from the time of St. Mark to Heraclas and Dionysius, the presbyters used to elect one from among themselves, and, having placed him aloft (in excelsiori gradu), saluted him Episcopus; as if an army should make a general (imperator), or a body of deacons an archdeacon.[70] But we cannot infer from this, that St. Jerome means to say that there was no distinct consecration of the bishop so elected; for it is merely of the election, not of the ordination of their bishop, that he speaks; and he simply adduces this as an instance of what he believed to be one of the ancient forms of episcopacy; namely, the appointment by the presbyters of one from among themselves to preside over them.[71]

Hilary the deacon says, that “the ordination of bishop and presbyters is the same, for both are priests; but the bishop is first; for every bishop is a presbyter, not every presbyter a bishop.”[72] All this is true, except inasmuch as he says there is no difference be tween the ordination of a bishop and a presbyter; and this is evidently the private opinion (deduced from the language of St. Paul) of a person not much to be relied on, and who afterwards joined the Luciferian schism. What he says in another place,[73] that “in Egypt, even to his days, presbyters sealed (consignant), in the absence of the bishop,” does not mean that they ordained, but that they confirmed; and, no doubt, in the early ages, presbyters were sometimes permitted to confirm, by delegation of the episcopal power.[74]

The only decided opponent of episcopacy in primitive times was Aerius, a presbyter of the Church of Sebaste, in Armenia, of the fourth century. He had a quarrel with his bishop, Eustathius, and was thence led, among other errors, to declare that bishops and presbyters were altogether equal, and that a presbyter could ordain, as well as a bishop. Epiphanius says, he was altogether an Arian heretic (Ἀρειανὸς μὲν τὸ πᾶν). His sentiments were wholly rejected by the Catholics, and his sect driven from all quarters of the Church;[75] it being a settled doctrine at that day, that the order of bishops excelled the order of presbyters, “inasmuch as the order of bishops can beget fathers to the Church by ordination, but the order of presbyters can but beget sons by baptism.”[76]

The review, then, which has been taken of the primitive testimony, proves this: that, in the earliest ages, in every quarter of the world whither the Church had penetrated, whilst all Churches had their regular ministers of the two orders of presbyters and deacons, yet in every city there was one chief presbyter, presiding over the clergy of that city and its suburb (παροικία), and that to him was committed the power of ordination, or, in the language of the Article, he had “public authority given him in the Church, to call and send ministers into the Lord’s Vineyard.” Whether he was to be esteemed of a different order, or of the same order, differing only in degree;[77] in any case, by universal consent, he was the minister of ordination. Other presbyters, equally with him, received authority to teach, to baptize, to minister the Eucharist; but he only had authority to ordain. Such authority was believed to have been derived to bishops from the Apostles. And the principle on which their ordinations were deemed valid, was, not merely that they themselves had the priestly office, but that they had received authority (authority by regular episcopal descent) to give ordination and mission to others.

Those who maintain the validity of presbyterian orders, do so on the ground that bishops were themselves but presbyters. Those who maintain that episcopal ordination is necessary, reply that even though bishops be themselves presbyters, yet they only, and not all presbyters alike, had the authority to ordain; and therefore that without them ordination could not take place. This was the constant creed of the fathers, and of the schoolmen after them.

The Council of Trent, and the later writers in the Church of Rome, have not greatly insisted on the three orders, but have generally classed together the first and second, bishops and presbyters, under the common name of sacerdotes, priests; influenced herein by the high importance which they attached to the priesthood, and by the disposition to reserve supreme episcopal authority to the pope.[78] Yet they have never thought of permitting any but the bishop to administer ordination, which is by them esteemed a Sacrament of the Church; but have ever held bishops to be successors of the Apostles, superior to presbyters, and qualified, which the other clergy were not, to confirm and to ordain.[79]

At the time of the Reformation, the Lutherans, meeting with nothing but opposition from the bishops, were constrained to act without them. Yet Luther and his followers constantly acted under appeal to a general council. The Confession of Augsburg fully conceded to bishops the power of the keys, i. e. of preaching the Gospel, of remitting and retaining sins, and of administering the Sacraments;[80] and declared, that bishops should retain all their legitimate authority, if only they would not urge such traditions as could not be kept with a good conscience.[81] The Lutherans earnestly protested, that they much wished to retain episcopacy, but that the bishops forced them to reject sound doctrine, and therefore they were unable to preserve their allegiance to them; and they “openly testified to the world, that they would willingly continue the canonical government, if only the bishops would cease to exercise cruelty upon the Churches.”[82]

The Calvinists, though in like manner rejecting their bishops, who would have bound them to Rome, declared themselves ready to submit to a lawful hierarchy. Calvin said that those who would not submit themselves to such, were deserving of any anathema.[83] Even Beza thought it insane to reject all episcopacy; and wished that the Church of England might continue to enjoy for ever that singular bounty of God.[84]

John Knox himself was not a favourer of that parity of ministers which Andrew Melvill afterwards introduced into the Kirk of Scotland, but may be considered as, more or less, a witness for the distinction of bishops and presbyters.[85]

In the English Church, the primitive rule of episcopal ordination and apostolical descent has never been infringed. The Article under consideration is the only authorized formulary, which seems in the least degree ambiguous. The ambiguity, however, is not real but apparent only; as it is clearly stated that not all who are themselves ministers can ordain; but only those invested with public authority in the Church to send others into the Vineyard. This is a complete description of a bishop, who is a chief presbyter invested, over and above other presbyters, with the power of send ing labourers into the Vineyard.

The first germ of this Article we have already seen, in the Articles agreed on between the Lutheran and Anglican divines, A. D. 1538.[86] About the same year, or soon after, a paper was written by Cranmer, De Ordine et Ministerio Sacerdotum et Episcoporum, in which the divine authority of priests and bishops, the superiority of bishops, and their succession from the Apostles, are strongly maintained.[87] The same kind of language is used in the Institution of a Christian Man, set forth nearly at the same time, or somewhat earlier.[88] In the year 1540, Henry VIIIth, in regard of a more exact review of the Institution of a Christian Man, appointed several learned men to deliberate about sundry points of religion, and to give in their sentiments distinctly. Seventeen questions were proposed to them concerning the Sacraments and ordination.[89] All agreed, except one, that bishops had the authority to make presbyters; and almost all agreed, that none besides had this power. Their general opinion was, that a bishop further required consecration, though Cox thought institution with imposition of hands sufficient. But at this time Cranmer appears to have been much wavering on the subject of ordination. He had imbibed a very high notion of the Divine prerogative of Christian princes; and some of his answers indicate a belief, that Christian kings, as well as bishops, had power to ordain ministers. Still he adds, as if doubtful of the soundness of his position, “This is mine opinion and sentence at this present, which nevertheless I do not temerariously define, but refer the judgment thereof wholly to your majesty.”[90] Several of the other divines had afterwards a hand in drawing up the Liturgy and the Ordinal; and all had expressed opinions diametrically opposite to the Archbishop. But the Archbishop’s own appears to have been only a theory hastily taken up, and as speedily relinquished, at a period when all opinions were undergoing a great revolution, and when the reformers were generally inclined to overrate the regal, and underrate the episcopal authority; since kings in most parts of Europe fostered, and bishops checked the progress of the Reformation. It is to be observed that the Necessary Doctrine, which was the result of this review of the Institution of a Christian Man, contains the strongest language concerning “order,” as “the gift or grace of ministration in Christ’s Church, given of God to Christian men by the consecration and imposition of the bishop’s hands,” and concerning a continual succession even to the end of the world.[91] This was set forth A. D. 1543. In 1548, Cranmer himself put out what is called Cranmer’s Catechism, which, though not written by him, was translated and published by his authority. In this the Apostolical descent, Episcopal ordination, and the power of the Keys, are strongly enforced and greatly enlarged upon.[92] Bishop Burnet remarks on it, that “it is plain that Cranmer had now quite laid aside those singular opinions which he formerly held of the ecclesiastical functions; for now, in a work which was wholly his own, without the concurrence of any other, he fully sets forth their divine institution.”[93] In 1549, Cranmer and twelve other divines drew up the Ordinal, where it is declared that, “from the Apostles’ times, there hath been three orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons;” it is said that none were admitted to them but “by public prayer, with imposition of hands; and it is enjoined that hereafter all persons to be ordained shall be admitted according to the form laid down in the Ordinal, which is nearly the same as that still used in the Church of England. In 1552, the Reformatio Legum was published, the chief writer of which was the Archbishop. In this again the three orders, of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, are distinctly treated of. For bishops are claimed the powers of jurisdiction and ordination, and all three orders are spoken of as evidently holding their offices on Scriptural authority and by Divine appointment.[94] Cranmer therefore could only have entertained for a short time the peculiar opinions which in 1540 he unhappily expressed.[95] It is only necessary to add, that the Ordinal is expressly sanctioned and authorized, not only as part of the Book of Common Prayer, but by the XXXVIth Article;[96] and we may observe, that, not only is episcopal ordination enjoined by it, but in its present form it forbids that any shall hereafter be “accounted or taken to be a lawful bishop, priest, or deacon in the United Church of England or Ireland, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had formerly episcopal consecration or ordination.”[97]

Section II. — Scriptural Proof.

WE may proceed, as in the last section, to show that, —

I. There is a regular order of ministers in the Christian Church set apart for sacred offices, and that no one may assume their functions, except he be lawfully called and sent.

II. There are regular ministers of ordination, to whom public authority is given to send labourers into the Vineyard.

I. The example of the old Testament priesthood is clearly to the point. One out of the twelve tribes was set apart for sacred offices in general, and of that tribe one whole family for special priestly ministration.

It is said truly, that the priesthood, and especially the high priesthood, was typical of Christ. He is the great High Priest over the House of God. Therefore, it is argued, all other priesthood has ceased. It is however equally true, that the kings and prophets of old were as much types of Christ as were the high priests. Christ is our Prophet, Priest, and King. Yet still it is lawful that there should be kings and prophets under the Gospel, for we read of many prophets in the Church (Acts ii. 17; xi. 27; xiii. 1; xv. 32; xxi. 9, 10. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11); and we are specially enjoined to “honour the king” (1 Pet. ii. 17).

In one sense, doubtless, there are no such prophets, kings, or priests now, as there were under the Law. Kings were then rulers of the theocracy, vicegerents of God in governing the Church of God. Prophets were sent to prepare the way of Him who was to come. Priests offered up daily sacrifice of propitiation, in type of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. So, in such a sense, are there now neither prophets, priests, nor kings. But as the coming of the King and Prophet has not abolished the kingly or prophetic office, so the coming of the Great High Priest has not of necessity done away with all priestly functions in the Church, but only with such as of their own nature belonged to the typical and ceremonial dispensation. Nay! we may fairly argue, that as sacred things in the old Testament needed the ministry of consecrated officers, so the still more sacred things of the new Testament would be likely to need the attendance of those specially set apart. And, without controversy, the Gospel and the Sacraments are greater and more sacred than the Law and the sacrifices; and hence, “if the ministration of death . . . .was glorious,” we could easily imagine, that the “ministration of the Spirit would be rather glorious;” that “if the ministration of condemnation was glory, much more would the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory” (2 Cor. iii. 7, 8, 9). In the old Testament the priests were appointed, first to minister in the sacrifices, and then to teach the people (Lev. x. 11. Deut. xxxiii. 10. Hagg. ii. 11. Mai. ii. 7). We still need the ministration, not of sacrifices, but of Sacraments; and the instruction of the Church is at least as necessary as the instruction of the Jews.

It is said, however, that all Christians are priests, and that a distinct ministry is therefore needless and inconsistent (see 1 Pet. ii. 9; Rev. i. 6; v. 10). But it is to be observed, that wherever Christians are said to be priests, they are also said to be kings. We know that the kingly character, which Christ bestows on His people, has not abolished monarchy; why should their priestly character have abolished ministry? Besides which, the very passages in the new Testament in which Christians are called a “royal priesthood,” “kings and priests,” are absolute quotations from the old Testament, where the very same titles are given to all the people of the Jews. “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Exod. xix. 6). The Septuagint Version of Exodus and the Greek of St. Peter are almost the same. The one did not forbid a special priesthood in Israel; the other therefore cannot disprove a ministry in the Church. It was indeed argued on one occasion, that the sanctity of the whole congregation made it useless to have priests at all.[98] But how far the argument was safe the sequel showed, when the earth swallowed up Korah and his company, and fourteen thousand of the people died of the plague, because they had listened to his reasoning (Num. xvi. 32, 33, 45‒49). It is difficult to see, where the difference lies between this statement of Korah and the modern denial of a Christian ministry, on the ground that all the Christian Church is a holy and spiritual priesthood; and it is difficult to understand what can be, if this be not, the “gainsaying of Core,” so strongly rebuked by St. Jude (ver. 11).

Now it was foretold by Isaiah (lxvi. 21) that, when the Gentiles were brought in, that is in the days of the Church of Christ, some among them should be taken “for priests and for Levites.” This looks much like a prophecy of a ministry to be established under the Gospel, with some analogy to that under the Law. Accordingly, our blessed Lord, even during His own personal ministry, whilst the Great High Priest was bodily ministering on earth, appointed two distinct orders of ministers under Himself, first, Apostles (Matt. x. 1), secondly, the seventy disciples (Luke x. 1); and this with evident reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, and the seventy elders among the Jews. He gave them power to preach the Gospel (Matt. x. 7. Luke x. 9), to bless those that received them (Matt. x. 12, 13. Luke x. 5, 6), to denounce God’s judgments on those that rejected them (Matt. x. 14. Luke x. 10, 11). He assured them, that he that received them received Him, that he that despised them despised Him (Matt. x. 40. Luke x. 16). And He further endued them with miraculous powers, because of the peculiar exigencies of their ministration. Moreover, He promised to give them the keys of the kingdom, that they might bind and loose; i. e. excommunicate offenders and absolve the penitent (Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18). All this was whilst He Himself went in and out among them, as the chief minister of His own Church. When He was about to suffer, He instituted one of the Sacraments of His Church, and gave especial authority to the Apostles to minister it (Luke xxii. 19; 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25; compare 1 Cor. x. 16); it being apparent from the statement of St. John, that they had before received authority, not only to preach, but to baptize (John iv. 2). At last, when He had risen from the dead, He gave fuller commission to those who were now to be the chief ministers in his kingdom, to go forth with His authority to preach and to baptize (Matt, xxviii. 19). He said unto them, “Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:[99] whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John xx. 21, 22, 23). He enjoined them to feed His sheep (John xxi. 15, 17). Lastly, He promised to be “with them alway, even to the end of the world” (Matt, xxviii. 20). Then He left the Church, thus organized with Apostles and elders; and ten days afterwards sent down the miraculous, enlightening gifts of the Spirit, the more fully to qualify His chosen ministers for the work which lay upon them. Accordingly, the Apostle says, “When He ascended up on high, He gave gifts unto men, . . . . He gave some (as) Apostles, and some (as) prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ” (Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12, &c).

The ministry so constituted continued to work. The college of Apostles was perfected by the addition of Matthias (Acts. i. 26). The Apostles preached, baptized, broke bread, (i. e. ministered the Holy Communion,) and governed the Church. After wards, believers multiplying, and the Apostles and elders not having leisure to attend to the secular affairs of the Church, they ordained the third order of deacons, whose ordination was performed by laying on of hands; and so they also were then empowered to preach and to baptize (Acts viii. 5, 12, 13, 38,), though not to perform some functions peculiar to the Apostles (Acts viii. 15‒17).

Thenceforward we find baptism, breaking of bread, and preaching, ever performed by regular ministers, Apostles, elders, deacons. The Apostles, as they go on their missionary journeys, “ordain them elders in every Church” (Acts xiv. 23). The “elders” meet with the Apostles in solemn council about the affairs of the Church (Acts xv. 2). When St. Paul takes leave of the Churches, he sends to the “elders” and addresses them with the exhortation, “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own Blood” (Acts xx. 17, 28). We find from the inscriptions of the Epistles, that the settled Churches had “bishops and deacons” (Phil. i. 1). St. Peter exhorts the “elders” of the Church to “feed the flock of God” (1 Pet. v. 1, 2). St. James bids the sick to send for the “elders of the Church to pray over them “(James v. 14). St. Paul speaks of himself and other Christian pastors, as “ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. iv. 1). He exhorts Archippus to take heed to the ministry, which he had received of the Lord, to fulfil it (Col. iv. 17). Especially, we find in his Epistles to Timothy and Titus, that towards the end of his own Apostleship he appointed others, who had previously received the gift of God by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. iv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 6), that they might, as the Apostles had hitherto done, “ordain elders in every city” (Tit. i. 5. 1 Tim. i. 3; v. 21, 22, &c.) Directions are given for proving, examining, and commissioning elders, presbyters or bishops, and deacons, which was to be done by the laying on of the hands of those chief ministers, themselves thus apostolically sent. (See 1 Tim. iii. 1‒13; v. 21, 22. Tit. i. 5‒7, &c.) The elders so ordained were esteemed worthy of double honour, especially if they ruled well and laboured in the word and doctrine (1 Tim. v. 17). And the Church is exhorted to obey those who had thus “the rule over them, and who watched for their souls, as they that must give account” (Heb. xiii. 17). Thus we find, that a regular ministry was established, ordained after a set form, by laying on of the hands of Apostles or other chief ministers empowered by them; that they preached and administered the Sacraments; that they were called ministers and stewards of God’s mysteries; that they were urged faithfully to fulfil their ministry, and that the people were urged to attend to them and respect them. Those who sent them forth were exhorted to be careful and circumspect how they ordained them.

Now, all this proves, that this public office not only existed, but was not to be undertaken except by persons lawfully called and sent. St. Paul reasons, that the Jewish priesthood could not be undertaken except by him “that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. v. 4). He even adds, that “Christ also glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest” (ver. 5). But the Gospel ministry was more glorious than that of the Law; “for if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory” (2 Cor. iii. 9). Hence we reasonably should conclude, that it too could not be self-assumed. And we find accordingly, that the Apostles ask, “How shall they preach except they be sent?” (Rom. x. 15); that they highly estimate the importance and difficulty of the office, saying, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. ii. 16); that they dissuade people from rashly seeking to intrude into it (James iii. 1); and that, so far from considering all Christians as equally ministers of Christ, they ask, “Are all Apostles, are all prophets, are all teachers?” (1 Cor. xii. 29). On the contrary, they plainly teach us, that the Church is a body, in which God ordains different stations for different members, some to be eyes, others ears, some hands, others feet; all necessary, all to be honoured, but some in more honourable place than the rest.

II. The new Testament contains evidence, that, besides the ordinary ministers, namely, presbyters and deacons, there were always certain chief presbyters who were ministers of ordination, having authority to send labourers into the Vineyard.

Under the Law, besides the ordinary priests and Levites, there was always the high priest, and therefore three orders or degrees of ministry. When our blessed Lord Himself was upon earth, He ordained two orders of ministers under Himself, the Apostles and the seventy disciples. Here again was a threefold cord, Christ answering to the high priest, the Apostles to the priests, the seventy to the Levites. But our Lord was to depart from them; and for the future government of His Church we find a promise, that “in the regeneration” (i. e. in the new state of things under the Gospel of Christ, the renovation of the Church) the twelve Apostles should “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. xix. 28). “What are the twelve tribes of Israel, but the whole Church of God? For whereof did the first Christian Church consist, but of converted Jews? And whither did our Saviour bend all His allusions, but to them? They had their twelve princes of the tribes of their fathers (Numb. i. 16). They had their seventy elders, to bear the burden of the people (Numb, xi. 16, 17). The Son of God affects to imitate His former polity, and therefore chooses His twelve and seventy disciples to sway His evangelical Church.[100]

Thus, when the Saviour in body departed from them, He left behind Him twelve Apostles to sit on the thrones or seats of government in the Church, and under them seventy elders to act with them, as their fellow-labourers and assessors. (See Acts xv. 22, &c.) Soon after the ascension, the Apostles were moved to appoint a third order, the order of deacons. And thus once more the number was complete, resembling the number of the Aaronic ministry, and embracing, 1, Apostles; 2, elders; 3, deacons. The former two were appointed and ordained by the Lord, the third was from the Apostles.[101]

Whilst the Lord Jesus was present with them, He alone ordained. (See Matt. x. Luke x. John xx. &c). After His ascension (except in the cases of St. Matthias and St. Paul, who were constituted to the Apostleship by Christ Himself) the Apostles acted as the ministers of ordination. (See Acts vi. 3, 6; xiv. 23. 2 Tim. i. 6. Tit. i. 5). Under them, we find continual mention of two orders of ministers, presbyters or elders, (who are also called bishops,) and deacons. (Acts xx. 17. Phil. i. 1, &c.). The Apostles in all things undertook the government of, and authority over the Churches, giving directions to the inferior ministers, and superintending them. (See Acts xv.; xix. 1‒5; xx. 17‒35. 1 Cor. iv. 16‒21; v. 3‒5. 2 Cor. ii. 9, 10; x. 1‒14; xii. 20, 21, &c.) It is very true that the Apostles speak, when addressing the elders, with brotherly kindness, calling themselves fellow-elders (συμπρεσβύτεροι, 1 Pet. v. 1); but no one can question their own superiority to them; and when they are mentioned together, they are distinguished as “the Apostles and elders,” — a phrase occurring three times in Acts xv. But the time was to come, when the Apostles should be taken from the Church, as their Lord had left it before. Did they then make provision for its government after their departure, and for a succession to themselves, as ministers of ordination? The Epistles to Timothy and Titus plainly answer this question. Timothy and Titus had themselves been presbyters, ordained by (2 Tim. i. 6), and companions of St. Paul. Towards the end of his own ministry, and when his own apostolical cares had largely increased, he appointed them to take the oversight of two large districts, the one of Ephesus (where we know there were several elders or presbyters, Acts xx. 17), the other of Crete, famous for its hundred cities. In these respective districts, he authorized them to execute full apostolical authority, the same kind of authority which he himself had exercised in his own larger sphere of labour. They were to regulate the public services of the Church (1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, &c), — to ordain presbyters and deacons by the laying on their hands (1 Tim. iii. 1‒14; v. 22. Tit i. 5), — to provide that sound doctrine should be taught (1 Tim. i. 3; iii. 15; iv. 6, 16. 2 Tim. i. 13; ii. 14. Tit, i. 13), — committing carefully to faithful men the office of teaching, which they had themselves received from the Apostles (2 Tim. ii. 2), — to execute discipline, honouring the diligent (1 Tim. v. 17), — hearing complaints and judging those complained of (1 Tim. v. 19, 20, 21, 24), — admonishing those that erred (Tit. i. 13), but excommunicating those that were heretical (Tit. iii. 10). All this power is committed to them, as a solemn charge, to be accounted for before God, and as a commandment to be kept without spot, unrebukable, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. i. 18; v. 21; vi. 13. 2 Tim. iv. 1); and grace for this ministry is specially said to have been given them by the putting on of the hands of the Apostles (2 Tim. i. 6).

Now, here is the case of two persons placed in a position previously occupied by none but the Apostles, with special power of jurisdiction and ordination. Before this, we find no such powers in any but the Apostles. Now we find them committed to Timothy and Titus. Is it not plain that, as our Lord left the Apostles with chief authority over His Church, having elders and deacons under them, so now the Apostles, themselves about to depart, leave Timothy and Titus, and others like them, with the same authority which they themselves had received from Christ?

It is only necessary, in order to complete the chain of evidence, that we observe what we meet with in the Revelation of St. John. There, seven great Churches are written to; one of which is the Church of Ephesus, of which we know that there were many elders there, and that afterwards Timothy was appointed as chief minister over them all. Each of these Churches is addressed through one presiding minister, who is called Angel, a name of the same import as Apostle. And these angels are compared to stars, placed to give light to the Churches (Rev. i. 20). Can we doubt then, that there was in each of these Churches one person, whose ministry was superior to the rest, as Timothy’s had been to that of the presbyters and deacons under him?

The evidence therefore of the new Testament seems clear and uniform, that there ever existed three orders of ministers: First, (1) Our Lord, (2) the Apostles, (3) the seventy. Secondly, (1) the Apostles, (2) the elders, (3) the deacons. Thirdly, (1) Persons like Timothy and Titus, called angels by St. John, (2) the elders, presbyters, or bishops, (3) the deacons. Moreover we find that, in all these cases, ordinations were performed by the first order of these ministers, by the laying on of hands; except where our Lord Himself ordained, when He did not lay on His hands, but breathed on His disciples (John xx. 22).

The only arguments of any weight, which are urged against the above, appear to be the following:

1. Bishops and presbyters are in Scripture convertible terms, which shows that their subsequent distinction was an invention of the priesthood.

The answer to this has been already given in the words of Theodoret. The second order of ministers, whose general and proper designation was elders or presbyters, are in a few instances called by St. Paul Episcopi, bishops, or overlookers. The first order were called Apostles, and, by St. John, Angels. There are obvi ous reasons why these two latter names should have been after wards considered too venerable to be given to ordinary ministers; and hence the name bishop, originally used to designate the overlookers of a flock, was afterwards appropriated to those who were overlookers of the pastors. But the bishops of after-times “never thought themselves and their order to succeed the Scripture, Ἐπισκοποι, but the Scripture Ἀπόστολοι. They were διάδοχοι τῶν ποστόλων, the successors of the Apostles.”[102]

2. A second argument is, that, in Acts xiii. 1‒3, Barnabas and Saul are said to have been ordained by some who were not Apostles.

This was no ordination, but merely a setting apart for a special labour; which was done, according to the pious custom of early days, with fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. (Comp. Acts xiv. 23.) That it was no ordination, appears from the fact, that St. Paul was made an Apostle by our Lord, at the very time of his conversion. See Acts xxvi. 17, where our Lord constitutes him an Apostle to the Gentiles. The words are, εἰς οὓς νῦν σε ἀποστέλλω. And St. Paul himself always declares, that he had his ministry, “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father” (Gal. i. 1).

3. It is said again, Timothy was ordained “with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (1 Tim. iv. 14).

It is certain, however, that bishops and presbyters are not so different, but that a bishop is still a presbyter, though all presbyters are not bishops. So Apostles were still presbyters, (1 Pet. v. 1); though all presbyters were not Apostles. Hence, the presbytery may have in this case consisted only of those of the first order. At all events, St. Paul took part in Timothy’s ordination, for, in 2 Tim. i. 6, he speaks of the grace of ordination as given to Timothy, “by the putting on of his (St. Paul’s) hands.” Hence, Timothy was certainly not ordained by presbyters only, without the presence, and laying on of hands of an Apostle. It may have been thus early permitted to presbyters to join with Apostles in laying on of their hands at the ordinations of other presbyters, as it has since been in the Western Church; but this at least gives no sanction to mere presbyterian ordination.

We must conclude then with Hooker, “If anything in the Church’s government, surely the first institution of bishops was from Heaven, even of God.”[103] And with Bp. Hall, “What inevitable necessity may do, we now dispute not,” yet “for the main substance,” episcopacy “is utterly indispensable, and must so continue to the world’s end.”[104]


  1. Sylloge, p. 127. In 1540 we find the following clause added: “Sicut et Paulus præcipit Tito ut in civitatibus presbyteros constituat.” — Syll. p. 174.
  2. Then follows a declaration, that no bishop should intrude on another diocese, and that the wickedness of ministers hinders not the grace of the Sacraments. — Jenkyns’s Cranmer, IV. Appendix, p. 286.
  3. The heading of the Articles both in those of 1552 and in those of 1662 is, Nemo in Ecclesia ministret nisi vocatus.
  4. ὁ λαïκὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῖς λαïκοῖς προστάγμασιν δέδεται. — Clem. R. 1 In Corinth. c. 40.
  5. Ibid. c. 42.
  6. c. 43.
  7. c. 44.
  8. See, for instance, Ignatius Ad Ephes. c. 1, 9, 18 (19 in the Greek), Ad Polyc. c. 3, where the Syriac has all the ssame remarkable expressions as the Greek. See especially in the first passage, Ephes. c. 1, ἀναζωπυρήσαντες ἐν αἵματι Θεοῦ [could not transcribe].
  9. ντίψυχον ἐγὼ τῶν ὑποτασσομένων, κ. τ. λ.
  10. Ignat. Ad Polyc. c. 6.
  11. Adv. Hær. III. 2.
  12. “Habemus annumerare eos, qui ab Apostolis instituti sunt Episcopi in ecclesiis, et successores eorum usque ad nos.” — III. 3.
  13. Ibid.
  14. κἂν πρεσβύτερος ᾖ, κἂν διἀκονος, κἄν λαïκός. — Stromat. Lib. III. p. 552.
  15. Stromata, Lib. V. pp. 665, 666; where λαïκῆς ἀπιστίας is opposed to ἱερατικὴ διακονία.
  16. Quis dives salvetur,” p. 959.
  17. Stromat. Lib. VI. p. 793.
  18. See Bp. Kaye’s Clement of Alexandria, p. 463.
  19. “Alius hodie episcopus, cras alius: hodie diaconus qui cras lector; hodie presbyter, qui cras laicus. Nam et laicis sacerdotalia munera injungunt.” — De Præscript. c. 41.
  20. See the last passage; also De Fugâ, c. 11.
  21. “Dandi (baptismum) quidem habet jus summus sacerdos, qui est episcopus; dehinc presbyteri et diaconi, non tamen sine episcopi auctoritate, propter ecclesiæ honorem.” —De Baptismo, c. 17.
  22. “Eucharistiæ sacramentum non de aliorum manu quam præsidentium sumimus.” — De Corona, 3.
  23. De Præscript. c. 32.
  24. De Exhort. Castitat. c. 7. See also De Baptismo, c. 17. And consult Bp. Kaye’s Tertullian, p. 224; and Bingham, E. A. Bk. I. ch. V. sect. 4.
  25. See Homil. II. in Numer.; Homil. XIII. in Lucam.
  26. In Matt. Tom. XII. num. 14.
  27. Homil. XX. in Lucam. “Si Jesus filius Dei subjicitur Joseph et Mariæ, ego non subjiciar episcopo, qui mihi a Deo ordinatus est pater? Non subjiciar presbytero qui mii Domini dignatione præpositus est?”
  28. “Ut cresceret plebs et multiplicaretur omnibus inter initia concessum est et evangelizare et baptizare et Scripturas in ecclesia explanare. At ubi autem omnia loca circumplexa est ecclesia, conventicula constituta sunt, et rectores et cætera officia in ecclesiis sunt ordinata, ut nullus de clero auderet, qui ordinatus non esset, præsumere officium, quod sciret non sibi creditum.” — Hilar. Diac. In Epist. Eph. c. IV. V. 12.
  29. See Bingham, Book I. c. v. § 4, and Mr. Morrison’s note to his translation of Neander’s Church History, I. p. 252.
  30. St. Jerome tells us the reason of the name κλῆρος, clerici, “Propterea vocantur clerici, vel quia de sorte sunt Domini, vel quia Dominus sors, id est pars, clericorum est.” — Ad Nepotian. De Vita Clericorum, Tom. IV. Part II. p. 259.
  31. “Ecclesia non est, quæ non habet sacerdotes.” — Dial. c. Lucifer. c. 8.
  32. Εἰ γὰρ οὐ δύναταί τις εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἐὰν μὴ δι’ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος ἀναγεννηθῇ, καὶ ὁ μὴ τρώγων τὴν σάρκα τοῦ Κυρίου, καὶ τὸ αἶμα αὐτοῦ πίνων, ἐκβέβληται τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, πάντα δὲ ταῦτα δι’ ἑτέρου μὲν οὐδενὸς, μόνον δὲ δια τῶν ἁγίων ἐκείνων ἐπιτελεῖται χειρῶν, τῶν τοῦ ἱερέος λέγω, πῶς ἄν τις τούτων ἐκτὸς, ἢ τὸ τῆς γεεννῆς ἐκϕυγεῖν δυνήσεται πῦρ, ἢ τῶν ἀποκειμένων στεϕάνων τυχεῖν; — Chrysost. De Sacerdot. Lib. III.
  33. “Qui non vocatus docet, non sine damno, et suo, et auditorum, docet, quod Christus non sit cum eo.” — Luther, In Galat. I. 1, Tom. V. p. 215.
  34. Confess. August. pars I. Art. V. Syllog. p. 24, Art. XIV. p. 127.
  35. Confess. Helvet. c. XVIII.; Syllog. p. 65.
  36. Calvin, Institut. IV. iii. 10. See Palmer, On the Church, pt. I. ch. VIII.
  37. See Episcop. Disp. 76, Thes. 4, 5; Remons. Conf. c. 22, § 1; Ford, On the Articles, Art. XXIII.
  38. Comm. in 1 Tim. iii. 1.
  39. Hilar. Diac. In Ephes. iv.
  40. See Bingham, E. A. Book II. ch. II. § 1.
  41. “Constabit id esse ab Apostolis traditum, quod apud ecclesias apostolorum fuerit sacrosanctum.” — Tertull. C. Marcion. Lib. IV. c. 5; cf. De Præscript. c. 17.
  42. “Quod universa tenet ecclesia, nec conciliis institutum, sed semper retentum, non nisi auctoritate apostolica traditum rectissime creditur.” — Augustin. Adv. Donatist. Lib. IV. c. 24, Tom. IX. p. 139.
  43. Clem. 1 Ad Cor. c. 1.
  44. c. 40.
  45. See Ign. Ad Ephes. 3, 4, 5, 6; Magnes. 2, 6, 13; Trall. 2, 7; Philadelph. 1, 4, 7, 10; Smyrn. 8, 12; Polyc. 6.
  46. Epist. ad Polycarp. c. 6, cited above.
  47. Martyr. Ignatii, Coteler. II. p. 174.
  48. Ap. Euseb. H. E. IV. 22.
  49. Irenæ. Lib. III. c. 3.
  50. Stromat. VI. p. 793. See also, Bp. Kaye’s Clem. Alex. p. 463.
  51. αἱ μὲν πρεσβυτέροις, αἱ δ’ ἐπισκόποις · αἱ δὲ διακόνοις, κ. τ. λ. — Pædag. III. p. 309.
  52. De Baptismo, c. 17, De Fugâ, c. 11.
  53. Ibid. c. 17, cited above.
  54. De Præscrip. Hæretic. c. 32.
  55. Ibid. c. 41, cited above.
  56. Vindiciæ Ignat. ap. Coteler. Tom. II pt. II. p. 320.
  57. See Bp. Taylor’s Episcopacy Asserted. Sect. XXIV. All this occurs in the first fifty Canons, which are received as authentic, being quoted by the Council of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Antioch, and Carthage. They were undoubtedly not apostolical, but are generally referred to the middle of the third century. Bp. Beveridge thinks they were collected by Clement of Alexandria. They seem to be appealed to as authority by Tertullian, Cyprian, Constantine the Great, Alexander of Alexandria, and Athanasius. See Codex Canonum Eccles. Prim. illus. a Gul. Beveregio.
  58. Beveregii Synodicon, Tom. I. pp. 1, 24‒27.
  59. Euseb. VI. 43.
  60. See, for instance, Epistol. XVI. “Quod enim non periculum metuere debemus de offensa Domini quando aliqui de Presbyteris nec Evangelii nec loci sui memores, sed neque futurum Domini judicium, neque nunc sibi propositum episcopum cogitantes, quod nunquam omnino sub antecessoribus factum est, cum contumelia præpositi totum sibi vendicant?”
  61. See Suicer, s. v. παροικία; and Bingham, E. A. Bk. IX. c. 2.
  62. Concil. Carthag. I. Can. 11; see Bingham, Bk. II. ch. III. sect. 9.
  63. Σύμβουλοι τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, συνέδριον καὶ βουλὴ τὴς ἐκκλησίας. — Constit. Apostol. Lib. II. c. 28.
  64. “Quando a primordio episcopatus mei statuerim, nihil sine consilio vestro, et sine consensu plebis, mea privata sententia gerere.” — Cyprian, Epist. XIV.; Op. Cyp. Epist. p. 38. “Omni actu ad me perlato placuit contrahi presbyterium, qui et hodie præsentes fuerunt, ut firmato consilio, quid circa personam eorum observari deberet, consensu omnium statueretur.” — Cornelius Cypriano, Epist. XLIX.; Op. Cypr. Epist. p. 92. See Bingham, Bk. II. ch. XIX. sect. 8.
  65. “Qui cum Episcopo Presbyteri sacerdotali honore conjuncti.” — Cyprian. Ad Lucian. Epist. LXI. See Bingham, II. xix. 14.
  66. It was so ordained by the fourth Council of Carthage, and there is a rule to the same purpose in the constitutions of the Church of Alexandria. See Bingham, II. xix. 10.
  67. Athanas. Opp. I. p. 732, Colon. See Bingham, II. iii. 6; Palmer, On the Church, pt. VI. ch. IV.
  68. χειροτονίᾳ μόνῃ. — Hom. IX. in 1 ad Tim.
  69. “Quid enim facit, excepia ordinatione, episcopus, quod presbyter non faciat?” — Epist. ad Evangelium, Ep. 101; Op. Tom. IV. pars II. p. 802.
  70. Ibid.
  71. See Bishop Hall, Episcopacy of Divine Right, Pt. II. Sect. 15; Bp. J. Taylor, On Episcopacy, Sect. 32; Bingham, II. iii. 5; Palmer, On the Church, pt. VI. ch. IV.
  72. In 1 Tim. iii. in Oper. Ambros.
  73. In Ephes. iv. “Denique apud Ægyptum presbyteri cosignant, si præsens non sit episcopus.”
  74. See Bingham, Bk. XII. ch. II. sect. 2, 4; Palmer, pt. VI. ch. I. VI.
  75. Epiphanius, Hæres. 75; August. Hæres. 54.
  76. Epiphanius, Ibid.
  77. The fathers, the schoolmen, and divines, both of the Roman and reformed episcopal churches, have seemed doubtful whether bishops and presbyters were of different degrees in the same order, or of different orders. The distinction between presbyter and deacon has always been esteemed as greater than that between bishop and presbyter; the eminence of the bishop over the presbyter consisting chiefly in the power of ordination. Mr. Palmer enumerates as advocates for identity of order, but inferiority of degree, Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, Irenæus, Clemens Alexand., Tertullian, Firmilian, Jerome, Hilary the deacon, Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret, Sedulius, Primasius, Isidore Hispalensis, Bede, Alcuin, the Synod of Aix, in 819, Amalarius, Hugo S. Victor, Peter Lombard, Alexander Alensis, Bonaventure, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, Cajetan, Durandus, the Council of Trent, and many reformers of the 16th century. Palmer, pt. IV. ch. I.
  78. The Council of Trent, Sess. XXIII. cap. 2, reckons seven orders of ministers, sacerdotes, diaconi, subdiaconi, acolythi, exorcistæ, lectores, ostiarii. The Council of Nice itself (Can. 3) had given the name of κλῆρος to others besides bishops, presbyters, and deacons; and the third Council of Carthage made a Canon (Can. 23) on purpose to confirm the title to them. (Bingham, I. V. 7.)
  79. Vid. Concil. Trident. Sess. XXIII. cap. 4.
  80. Confess. August. De Potestate Ecclesiastica, Sylloge, pp. 151, 225.
  81. Ibid. pp. 157, 231.
  82. “Episcopi sacerdotes nostros aut cogunt hoc doctrinæ genus, quod confessi sumus, abjicere et damnare, aut nova et inaudita crudelitate miseros et innocentes occidunt. Hæ causæ impediunt quo minus agnoscant hos episcopos nostri sacerdotes. Ita sævitia episcoporum in causa est, quare alicubi dissolvitur illa canonica politia, quam nos magnopere cupiebamus conservare. Ipsi viderint quomodo rationem Deo reddituri sint, quod dissipant ecclesiam. Porro hic iterum volumus testatum, nos libenter conservaturos esse ecclesiasticam et canonicam politiam, si modo episcopi desinant in nostras ecclesias sævire.” — Apologia Confessionis, Art. VII. § 24. See Bp. Hall’s Episcopacy, Int. Sect. 3. The above passage is given at greater length in Dr. Wordsworth’s Theophilus Anglicanus, ch. XI.
  83. “Talem nobis hierarchiam si exhibeant in qua sic emineant episcopi, ut Christo subesse non recusent, ut ab Illo tanquam ab unico Capite pendeant et ad Ipsum referantur: … tum vero nullo non anathemate dignos fatear, si qui erunt, qui non eam reverentur, summaque obedientia observant.” — Calvin. De Necessitate Reform. Eccles. See also Institut. IV. c. 10. See Hall, as above.
  84. “Fruatur sane ista singulari Dei beneficentia, quæ utinam illi sit perpetua.” — Beza ad Sarav. apud Hall, Episcopacy, Sect. 4.
  85. Harington’s Notes on the Church of Scotland, ch. III.
  86. Cranmer’s Works, by Jenkyns, IV. p. 286.
  87. Ibid. p. 300.
  88. Formularies of Faith in the Reign of Henry VIII. p. 101.
  89. Strype’s Cranmer, p. 110.
  90. See Jenkyns’s Cranmer, II. p. 98, where Cranmer’s answers are given. All the replies are to be found in the Appendix to Burnet On the Reformation, and Collier’s Ecclesiastical History. See also Jenkyns’s preface to his edition of Cranmer, I. p. xxxii. &c.
  91. See at length Formularies of Faith, p. 277.
  92. See Cranmer’s Catechism, p. 193, &c. Oxford, 1829.
  93. Burnet, History of Reformation, II. p. 2.
  94. Reform. Leg. Tit. De Ecclesia et Ministris Ejus, capp. 3, 4, 10‒12.
  95. The question concerning Archbishop Cranmer’s remarkable expressions in 1540, and subsequent change of opinion, is ably disposed of by Chancellor Harington, Succession of Bishops in the Church of England. See also his Two Ordination Sermons. Exeter, 1845.
  96. The Church of England has always acted on the principles laid down in the Preface to the Ordinal, although many of her writers have shown consideration for the difficulties of the Continental Protestants. It has been asserted by Mr. Macaulay, Hist. of England, I. p. 75, that “in the year 1603 the province of Canterbury” (i. e. in Canon 55) “solemnly recognized the Church of Scotland, a Church in which episcopal ordination was unknown, as a branch of the holy Catholic Church of Christ.” This statement has been clearly disproved by Chancellor Harington, who has demonstrated that at least a titular episcopacy then existed in Scotland, and that there was “a full determination to restore a regularly consecrated episcopacy.” See a Letter on the LVth Canon and the Kirk of Scotland, by E. C. Harington, M. A. Rivingtons, 1851.
  97. The following writers may be consulted by the student, both as containing the arguments for episcopacy and the succession of ministers, and as showing the judgment of the great Anglican divines on the subject. Hooker, Bk. VII.; Hall, Episcopacy of Divine Right; Taylor, On Episcopacy; Chillingworth, Divine Institution of Episcopacy; Leslie, On the Qualifications to administer the Sacraments; Potter, On Church Government; Bingham, E. A. Bk. II.; Palmer, On the Church, Part VI.
  98. Numb. xvi. 3: “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?”
  99. “The Holy Ghost,” for the work of the ministry, the ordaining influences of the Spirit. It could not have been the ordinary operations of the Spirit, for they had been long living under them; nor was it the miraculous baptism of the Church with the Holy Ghost, which did not come upon them till the day of Pentecost, Acts ii. 1.
  100. Bishop Hall’s Episcopacy, Sect. 2.
  101. [The statements of this paragraph must, I think, be taken with some modification. There is no evidence in the New Testament that the seventy of the Gospels became, ipso facto, the presbyters or elders of the Apostolic Church. That these elders may have been selected from that body, is highly probable. There is patristic authority to prove it. But the same authority asserts that the seven deacons were also selected from the seventy; a thing which would be inexplicable, had the seventy been made presbyters by our Lord. (See the passages cited in Archbishop Potter On Church Government, p. 48, Am. ed.) What is certain is, that Paul and Barnabas “ordained them elders in every Church” which they founded in their first missionary journey (Acts xiv. 23); following, herein the example of the mother Church of Jerusalem (Acts xi.) 30), and furnishing a pattern for all Churches. The institution of the order is not recorded, as that of deacons is. Its existence, however, is certain, and so the main argument remains untouched. — J. W.]
  102. Bentley, On Freethinking, p. 136, quoted by Wordsworth, Theoph. Anglic.
  103. Hooker, VII. V. 10.
  104. Bp. Hall’s Episcopacy, Pt. II. Sect. 22.


E. Harold Browne

(Edward) Harold Browne was an English bishop, born at Aylesbury and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was ordained in 1836, and two years later was elected senior tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From 1843 to 1849 he was vice-principal of St David’s College, Lampeter, and in 1854 was appointed Norrisian professor of divinity at Cambridge. His best-known book is the Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (vol. i., Cambridge, 1850; vol. ii., London, 1853), which remained for many years a standard work on the subject and is still beloved today. In 1864 he was consecrated bishop of Ely.

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