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by human wisdom to complete the system, is merely advisory and prudential.

The full admission of these principles would, as it seems to me, prepare the way for a final removal of most disputes concerning this subject.

These things being premised as indispensable to a just decision concerning this subject; I observe, that the system of Ecclesiastical Government, mentioned in the Scriptures, is disclosed by them either completely, or partially. If they have completely disclosed this system, then we shall find it all in the sacred volume; and cannot need to search for it elsewhere. If they have disclosed it partially; then a partial disclosure was sufficient ; and this part is all that possesses, or can possess, any authority to bind the consciences of men. Whatever additions are made to it, and however wisely or necessarily they are made, by men, they cannot pretend to the least authority or obligation. It is in vain to say, that in this case the Church would be left at loose ends, and unprotected against disorder and schism. The answer to this objection is obvious, and complete. The church is left, as Infinite Wisdom chose to leave it. Should we grant, contrary to truth and decency, that the situation, in which it is lest, is not the best; still the evil is without remedy: for we cannot add to the words of God.

Let us now inquire what Ecclesiastical officers are mentioned in the Scriptures as instituted by God.

The largest, and most particular, account, given of this subject in the Scriptures, is in Eph. iv. 11. And he gave some Apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. Here we find at least four sorts of officers in the Church; four classes of men, who are empowered, each, to do some things in the Church, which they, and they only, had a right to do.

The office of Apostles is acknowledged, on all hands, long since to have terminated.

Of Prophets, it is only necessary to observe, that their office must terminate, of course, when inspiration terminates.

Evangelists, the third class here mentioned, are universally acknowledged to have been extraordinary officers, and to have

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ceased in a very early period of the Church ; unless the word be supposed to denote merely a minister without a cure.

There remain, then, only Pastors and Teachers. From the phraseology, here used, it appears to me evident, that they were not two distinct orders of men, but one, destined to feed and teach the Church. The language is not, as in the preceding clauses, some pastors, and some teachers, but some pastors and teachers, that is, some, who were both pastors and teachers. To teach the Church is to feed it with the bread of life.

Some Christian churches have supposed, that teachers were men, who, holding the pastoral office, were particularly to be employed in teaching Candidates for the ministry whatever was necessary to qualify them for this office. Others have believed, that they were destined to the employment of teaching, and defending, evangelical truth generally; without taking upon themselves the care of particular Churches. As all these, so far as I know, consider both kinds of officers as of the same rank, and as invested with exactly the same powers; it will be unnecessa-' ry, at the present time, to examine this opinion.

We are come, then, to one class of permanent Ecclesiastical officers, mentioned in this text; viz. That, which is known by the word, Pastors.

The Apostle is here recounting those officers, which Christ gave to the Church, when he ascended to Heaven : and it must, I think, be admitted, that he mentions all those, which Christ gave to the Church directly, or in his own person. All other ecclesiastical officers, constituted in the Scriptures, were therefore constituted, afterwards, by the Apostles. Of these I know of but one class, mentioned in the Scriptures; viz. Deacons. In Acts vi. seven men are said to have been chosen to this office, and set apart by prayer and the laying on of hands.

The only debate concerning this subject respects the class, or classes, of Officers, denoted by the word Pastors. In my own opinion, this word includes a single class only; spoken of elsewhere in the Scriptures under the names Elders, Bishops, Ministers, Teachers, and some others. This opinion I shall endeavour to support by the following arguments, derived from the Word of God. Of these I allege,

1. The Text.

The text is addressed directly to the pastors of the Christian Church, under the name Elders ; derived as is that of Pastor also, from the Old Testament. In the customary language of the Jews, the word Elders denoted the Rulers and Counsellors of that nation : as some corresponding word has often denoted, either generally or particularly, the Rulers and Counsellors of other nations. Thus among the Romans Senator, and among ourselves Senator, denote an officer, similar to the Jewish Elder. Human wisdom is chiefly the result of experience; and experience is the result of years. Nations therefore, peculiarly when unenlightened by science, have committed the direction of public affairs, and public counsels, almost exclusively to the aged. The name, in this appropriate sense, was naturally transferred to those, who were to counsel and direct the Church ; especially by the Apostles, as being Jews, and writing originally for their own countrymen. These Elders are exhorted to feed, that is, to teach, edify, and rule, the flock of God. That the Greek word Fospana), a derivative of which is here translated feed, signifies to rule, in the most extensive manner, can be doubted by no man, at all conversant with the Greek language, either in the Classics, or the New Testament. They are also directed to take the oversight of it, or, in more exact language, to oversee it, (they had already taken the oversight of it:) willingly; not of constraint, nor for the sake of gain. The Greek word, rendered taking the oversight, is sRiOXOF XVTES ; exactly rendered overseeing, or exercising the office of an overseer, or bishop.

Elders, therefore, were to exercise the office of a Bishop, or Overseer; and of course were invested with that office. To this the only reply is, that Elder is a generic term, including both Bishops and ordinary. Elders, or Ministers. This will be considered farther on. At present, I observe, that these directions are given to Elders absolutely, and as Elders merely; and to all El. ders, therefore, without distinction. I know not by what warrant we can suppose, that St. Peter, writing with the Spirit of Inspiration, has written so loosely, as to express that in the most absolute manner, which was intended in a very limited sense ; so limited, as to exclude nineteen-twentieths of all those, who are

apparently included in his direction: while, at the same time, he has given no notice, either before or after, of this desigo. What, in such a case, must be the construction of this passage by the Elders, to whom it was written ; and what their consequent conduct, in obedience to it? If it be supposed, by us, who have the whole Bible before us, that this strange construction ought to be given to it ; would it be possible for these Elders, who had no other writing of this Apostle, and few of them, probably, any other writings of the New Testament, to understand, that what is here obviously made the duty of every Elder, was really the duty of one only, out of many ?

2. Tallege Acts xx. 17, 28, And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the Elders of the Church. A part of the directions which he gave to these Elders is recited thus. Take heed, there., fore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased wilh his own blood.

On these two verses, thus connected, I remark,
First. That in Ephesus there were several Elders of the Church.
Secondly. That all these Elders were Bishops.

The word, rendered in the English Translation, Overseers, is in the original Erioxomxs, the only word, in the New Testament, which is rendered Bishop. The word Bishop, is synonymous with Overseer.

Thirdly. That the Holy Ghost constituted, or made, these sederal Elders, Bishops. The original word is sdero, constituted.

Fourthly. That in Ephesus all the Elders of the Church were Bishops. These were plainly all the Elders of that Church : as is evident from the phraseology. The words are, And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the Elders of the Church.

Fifthly. That, therefore, there was no one Bishop, of superior authority; or holding an office, or character, which distinguished him from other Bishops in that City.

Sixthly. That Timothy could not be, although he is extensively supposed to have been, the sole Bishop, or Diocesan, of the Church in that City; because other men were Bishops in that Church.

The Elders, to whom St. Peter wrote in the text, were all who dwelt in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Proper, and Bithynia :


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provinces, constituting more than two-thirds of that great country, called the Lesser Asia ; at that time full of Churches and Christians. All the Elders of all these Churches he exhorts to exercise the office of a Bishop in the Church.

All the Elders in Ephesus, the chief city in the same country, St. Paul declares to have been constituted Bishops by the Holy Ghost. Both apostles speak the same language to the same persons: language, which has obviously but one meaning.

These passages in the most explicit manner teach us, that Elders, universally, and Bishops, are the same persons ; destined to exactly the same purposes, and invested with exactly the same powers.

3. I allege Phil. i. Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are in Philippi, with the Bishops and Deacons.

Concerning this passage, I observe,

First. That there is no mention made of Elders in this Church by name.

The saints, with the Bishops and Deacons, are expressly mentioned. If there were Elders in this Church, who were distinct from the Bishops, the omission of them is inexplicable. Jf Elders be allowed to have been officers, inferior to Bishops; they were unquestionably superior to Deacons; and it is incredible, that this letter should not have been addressed to them also, when it was addressed to the Deacons. The important interest, and office, which they held in this Church, rendered it highly proper, that the contents of the letter should be addressed personally to them: more so, certainly, than that it should be addressed to the Deacons. Had it been addressed to Bishops, Elders, and Deacons, it would have been thought, by an advocate for prelatical Episcopacy, absolutely decisive in favour of three orders of Ecclesiastical Officers. As it now stands, and as it is uncontradicted by any other passage of Scripture, I think it is equally decisive, that there were but two.

Secondly. It is certain, that in the Philippian Church there were several Bishops; and, therefore, whatever was the case with other Churches in this respect, there was not at Philippi a single Bishop, presiding over a number of subordinate ministers. But there is no

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