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invalidating episcopacy, ordained as the remedy and obex of schism, either tying their hands behind them, by taking away their coercion, or by putting out their eyes, by denying them cognizance of causes spiritual, or by cutting off their heads, and so destroying their order. How far these will lead us, I leave to be considered. This only : “Percute pastores, atque oves dispergentur;" and I believe it will be verified at the coming of that wicked one; “I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep having no shepherd.”
I am not new in this conception, I learned it of St. Cyprian: “ Christi adversarius, et ecclesiæ ejus inimicus ad hoc, ecclesiæ præpositum suâ infestatione persequitur, ut; gubernatore sublato, atrocius, atque violentius circa ecclesiæ naufragia grassetur :" " The adversary of Christ, and enemy of his spouse, therefore persecutes the bishop, that having taken him away, he may, without check, pride himself in the ruins of the church.” And a little after, speaking of them that are enemies to bishops, he says, that “ Antichristi jam propinquantis adventum imitantur:”“ Their deportment is just after the guise of antichrist, who is shortly to be revealed."
But be this conjecture vain or not, the thing of itself is of deep consideration; and the catholic practice of Christendom for 1500 years is so insupportable a prejudice against the enemies of episcopacy, that they must bring admirable evidence of Scripture, or a clear revelation proved by miracles, or a contrary undoubted tradition apostolical for themselves, or else hope for no belief against the prescribed possession of so many ages.
But before I begin, methinks in this contestation, ubi potior est conditio possidentis,' it is a considerable question; what will the adversaries stake against it? For if episcopacy cannot make its title good, they lose the benefit of their prescribed possession. If it can; I fear they will scarce gain so inuch as the obedience of the adverse party by it, which yet already is their due. It is very unequal; but so it is ever, when authority is the matter of the question. Authority never gains by it; for although the cause go on its side, yet it loses costs and damages : for it must either, by fair condescension to gain the adversaries, lose something of itself, or
• Epist. 55.
if it asserts itself to the utinost, it is but that seldom or never happens; for the very questioning of any authority, hoc ipso, 'makes a great intrenchment even to the very skirts of its clothing.
But huc deventum est. Now we are in, we must go
Christ did institute a Government in his Church.
First, then, that we may build upon a rock. Christ did institute a government to order and rule his church by his authority, according to his laws, and by the assistance of the blessed Spirit.
1. If this were not true, how shall the church be governed ? For I hope the adversaries of episcopacy, that are so punctual to pitch all upon Scripture ground, will be sure to produce clear Scripture for so main a part of Christianity, as is the form of the government of Christ's church. And if for our private actions, and duties economical, they will pretend a text, I suppose it will not be thought possible Scripture should make default in assignation of the public government, insomuch as all laws intend the public, and the general directly; the private, and the particular, by consequence only and comprehension within the general.
2. If Christ himself did not take order for a government, then we must derive it from human prudence, and emergency of conveniences, and concourse of new circumstances, and then the government must often be changed, or else time must stand still, and things be ever in the same state and possibility. Both the consequents are extremely full of inconvenience. For if it be left to human prudence, then either the government of the church is not in immediate order to the good and benison of souls; or, if it be, that such an institution, in such immediate order to eternity, should be dependent upon human prudence, it were to trust such a rich commodity in a cock-boat, that no wise pilot will be supposed to do. But if there be often changes in government ecclesiastical, (which was the other consequent,) in the public frame I mean, and constitution of it; either the certain infinity of schisms will arise, or the dangerous issues of public inconsistency and innovation, which, in matters of religion, is good for nothing, but to make men distrust all; and, come the best that can come, there will be so many church-governments, as there are human prudences. For so (if I be not misinformed a) it is abroad in some towns that have discharged episcopacy. At St. Galles, in Switzerland; there the ministers and laymen rule in common, but a layman is president. But the consistories of Zurick and Basil are wholly consistent of laymen, and ministers are joined as assistants only and counsellors; but at Schaffhausen the ministers are not admitted to so much, but in the Huguenot churches of France the ministers do all.
3. In such cases, where there is no power of the sword for a compulsory, (and confessedly of all sides there can be none in causes and courts ecclesiastical, if there be no opinion of religion, no derivation from a Divine authority, there will be sure to be no obedience, and indeed nothing but a certain public, calamitous irregularity. For why should they obey ? Not for conscience, for there is no derivation from Divine authority; not for fear, for they have not the power of the sword.
4. If there be such a thing as the power of the keys, by Christ concredited to his church, for the binding and loosing delinquents and penitents respectively on earth, then there is clearly a court erected by Christ in his church; for here is the delegation of judges. “Tu Petrus, vos Apostoli :" whatsoever ye shall bind; here is a compulsory, “ligaveritis :" here are the causes of which they take cognizance, "quodcunque;" viz." in materiâ scandali.” For so it is limited Matt. xviii., but it is indefinite Matt. xvi., and universal, John xx., which yet is to be understood, "secundum materiam subjectam,” in causes which are emergent from Christianity, “ut sic," that secular jurisdictions may not be intrenched upon. But of this hereafter. That Christ did in this place erect a jurisdiction, and establish a government, (besides the evidence of fact) is generally asserted by primitive exposition of the fathers, affirming, that to St. Peter the keys were
* Simler, de Rep. Helvet. fol. 148 et 172.
given, that to the church of all ages a power of binding and loosing might be communicated. “ Has igitur claves dedit ecclesiæ, ut quæ solveret in terrâ, soluta essent in cælo; scil. ut quisquis in ecclesia ejus dimitti sibi peccata crederet, seque ab iis correctus averteret, in ejusdem ecclesiæ gremio constitutus eâdem fide atque correctione sanaretur.” So St. Austin. And again, “ Omnibus igitur sanctis ad Christi corpus inseparabiliter pertinentibus, propter hujus vitæ procellosissimæ gubernaculum, ad liganda et solvenda peccata claves regni cælorum primus apostolorum Petrus accepit; quoniam nec ille solus, sed universa ecclesia ligat, solvitque peccata :" “ St. Peter first received the government in the power of binding and loosing : but not he alone, but all the church,” to wit, all succession and ages of the church. “ Universa ecclesia,” viz.“ in pastoribus solis," as St. Chrysostom"; " In episcopis et presbyteris," as St. Jerome + : the whole church, as it is represented in the bishops and presbyters. The same is affirmed by Tertulliano, St. Cyprian', St. Chrysostom", St. Hilary 5, Primasius', and generally by the fathers of the elder, and divines of the middle ages.
5. When our blessed Saviour had spoken a parable of the sudden coming of the Son of man, and commanded them therefore with diligence to stand upon their watch, the disciples asked him, “Speakest thou this parable to us, or even to all ? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season k?” As if he had said, 'I speak to you, for to whom else should I speak, and give caution for the looking to the house in the master's absence? You are by office and designation my stewards, to feed my servants, to govern my house.'
6. In Scripture, and other writers, “to feed,' and 'to govern,' is all one, when the office is either political, or economical, or ecclesiastical. “So he fed them with a faithful and true heart, and ruled them prudently with all his power!.” And St. Peter joins επισκοπούντες and ποιμαίνοντες together, ποιμάνατε το εν υμίν ποίμνιον του Θεού, επισκοπούντες So does St. Paul, προσέχετε ούν εαυτούς και πάντα το ποιμνίω, εν ώ υμάς το πνεύμα το άγιον έθετο Επισκόπους ". - Επισκόπους εν ποιμνίω, Rulers Or
b De Doctr. Christ. lib. i. c. 18. tract. 118. In Johan, vide etiam tract. 124. et tract. 50. In Joh. de Agon. Christ. cap. 30. De Bapt, contr. Donatist. lib. iii. c. 17. e De Sacerd, lib. iji.
In Matt. xvi. e Lib. de Pudicit. | Epist. 27.
6 Lib. quod Christus est Deus. De Tripit. Jib. vi.
In Apocal. lib. iii. k Luke, xii. 42.
| Psal. lxxviii.
Overseers in a flock;' Pastors. It is ordinary. Iosuéva law, Homer; i. e. Bagirece öxwww. Euripides calls the governors and guides of chariots, nouévas oxw. And our blessed Saviour himself is called the “ great Shepherd of our souls ;” and that we may know the intentum of that compellation, it is in conjunction also with’EriononOS. "He is, therefore, our Shepherd, for he is our Bishop, our Ruler, and Overseer. · Since, then, Christ bath left pastors or feeders in his church, it is also as certain he hath left rulers, they being both one in name, in person, in office. But this is of a known truth to all that understand either laws or languages : oi dè torpcívOrtes αρχόντων και ηγεμόνων έχοντες δύναμιν, saith Philo “; « They that feed have the power of princes and rulers :" the thing is an andoubted truth to most men; but because all are not of a mind, something was necessary for confirmation of it.
This Government was first comnuitled to the Apostles by
This government was, by immediate substitution, delegated to the apostles by Christ himself, “ in traditione clavium, in spiratione Spiritûs, in missione in Pentecoste.” When Christ promised them the “keys," he promised them “power to bind and loose;" when he breathed on them the Holy Ghost, he gave them that actually, to which, by the former promise, they were entitled; and in the octaves of the passion, he gave them the same authority, which he had received from his Father, and they were the “ faithful and wise stewards, whom the Lord made rulers over his household.” But I shall not labour much upon this *. Their
1 Pet. v. 2.
n Acts, xx. olm lib. de eo quod deterior potiori insidiatur. · Vide Hilariuin in hunc locum et pp. communiter.