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reason to conclude, that the Philippian Church was, in this respect, differently constituted from other Churches.
4. I allege the fact, that no mention is made of Bishops, by way of address, (except the text just quoted from Philippians i. 1,) or direction, or salutation.
The word stiOxOTOS, (Bishop, or Overseer,) occurs in the New Testament five tines. Once it is applied to Christ; viz. 1 Pet. ii. 25; and four times denotes Officers in the Church. The word STIOXorn, is once used to denote the Office of a Bishop; viz. I Tim. iii. 1; in two instances, to denote visitation ; Luke xix. 44, and 1 Pet. ii. 12; and once is quoted from Ps. cix. 8, to denole, by way of accommodation, the employment of Judas. as an Apostle. EXIKIEW, to oversee, of exercise the office of a Bishop, is used once with that meaning ; viz. in the text; and once, Heb. xii. 15; where it is translated, with exact propriety, looking dili; gently.
In all the addresses of their several letters by the apostles to the several Churches, there is not, except in that just mentioned, a single allusion to Bishops, as a peculiar order of men. In the numerous salutations, with which the Epistles are concluded, and in the several directions, given to the Churches, there is not the least mention made, nor the least hint given, concerning this class of officers.
Had such a class existed, to whom the government of Churches and subordinate ministers was chiefly, or wholly, committed ; is it credible, that no inention should be made of them in the numerous directions, given for the government of the Church? There are several proper cases of discipline mentioned in the Epistles to the Corinthians : particularly, the case of the man, who had his father's wife. St. Paul directs the whole Church of Corinth, when gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver this person to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh: 1 Cor. vi. 1, 4, 5; that is, to excommunicate him.
" The Church did excommunicate him. Of this fact St. Paul gives us an account, 2 Cor. ii. 5,6; where he says, Sufficient to such a man, is this punishment, which was inflicted of many ; UTO sovel. Tovwv; by the majority, or the chief part of the members.
Had there been a Bishop, entrusted with the government of the Church at Corinth, (and if not at Corinth, where could we expect to find such Bishops ?) is it credible, that this important act of Church government should not have been assigned to him; and afterwards recited as having been executed by him, or at least under his authority? Is it credible, that in all the mention, which is made of government in the Church, there should no where be any mention made of Bishops, as particularly concerned in this subject? What is said in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, and may be thought inconsistent with this remark, I shall consider hereafter.
In all the salutations also, directed universally to all the saints, and to many humbler individuals by name, there is no mention made of Bishops. Yet several of the Epistles are addressed to churcbes, ih cities of great eminence; where Bishops must, if any where, have resided. The passage in Heb. xiii. 24. Sabute them, who have the rule over you, I shall examine in another place.
5. I allege, also, the Commission, originally given to Ministers of the Gospel.
This is found at length in Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Go ye, disciple all nations ; baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am will you always unto the end of the world. Amen.
This Commission is plainly given to all ministers, because it is given without discrimination, and because it is given to them unto the end of the world. It is their only commission; and conveys the only authority, under which they act as ministers. The authority, which it conveys, is also the same to all. Unless, then, this commission is qualified elsewhere; there can be no distinction among Ministers. Those, to whom precisely the same authority is given by the same commission, it is hardly necessary to observe, sustain exactly the same oslice.
6. I allege, as proof of the same doctrine, the fact, that the same duties are assigned to all Ministers of the Gospel.
The duties, assigned to Ministers of the Gospel, are public and private prayer in the Church; preaching the Gospel; admin
nistering Baptism, and the Lord's Supper ; ruling ; and ordaining other Ministers. All these are assigned to Elders universal. ly, in as plain language, as any which is used about these subjects. With regard to the three first of these duties, this will not be questioned. The whole debate respects the two last. I shall, therefore, consider these particularly.
Concerning ruling the Church, we have the following passages.
A Bishop must be one, that ruleth well in his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.
For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God. 1 Tim. iii. 2, 4, 5.
, Let the Elders, who rule well, be counted worthy of double honour ; especially they, who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Tim. v. 17.
In the first of these passages, a Bishop is required to rule well. In the second it is required, that the Elders, who rule well, should be accounted worthy of double honour. So far as these two passages are concerned, it will not be questioned, that Rul. ing is assigned as explicitly to Elders, as to Bishops ; nor that the Elder is equally entitled with the Bishop to the employment of Ruling. But this is the only passage in the New Testament, in which Ruling is expressly assigned to a Bishop ; unless the word, rendered Bishop, should be supposed to contain such an assignment.
The character of Timothy and Titus, as Bishops, will be hereafter considered.
In Rom. xii. 8, it is said, He, that Ruleth, is required to do this duty with diligence. This passage plainly lies out of the debate.
In Heb. xiii. 7, the Apostle says, Remember them, who have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of life. Obey them, that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves ; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, verse 17. Salute all them, that hate the Rule over you, and all the Saints. They of Italy salute you.
Here we find the Rule over the Church, or Churches, to whom this Epistle was directed, committed to many hands : VOL. V.
Them, that have the Rule over you ; and all them, that have the Rule over you. If this Epistle was sent to a single Church, or to the Churches of a single City; (Jerusalem for instance ;) then in that Church, or in the Churches of that City, there were several persons, who had the rule over these Churches. That it was thus sent is both reasonable in the nature of the case ; be. cause otherwise there would be nobody to receive, to keep, or to testify to, a part of the Canon of Scripture; and because in the last quoted verse they of Italy are said to salute the persons, to whom it was written. Of course, these Rulers cannot have been Bishops of extensive dioceses ; but ordinary Ministers of the Church.
In accordance with this opinion, the most judicious divines have supposed this Epistle to have been directed to the Hebrews in Palestine ; and, particularly, those in Jerusalem.
The Rulers, spoken of in the 7th verse, have been supposed to be dead, at the time when the Epistle was written : the latter end of the year 63. St. James the less, often called the Bishop of Jerusalem, died probably about one year before this time. He was the only person, who with any pretence can be supposed to have Ruled them as a Bishop. Plainly James, the brother of John, and Stephen, the Protomartyr, were not, as Theodoret supposes, at all concerned in Ruling this Church. If the other James had been their Bishop; it is not easy to conceive how, in such a passage, there should be no hint concerning his ruling over them; and how St. Paul, if their government had not been committed to a considerable number of persons, should have written as he has done in this verse.
In the two last of these verses, the Rulers mentioned, were still living; and, from the language used, existed in considerable numbers. At the same time, no Bishop is mentioned, or alluded to, in any manner of distinction whatever. Ecclesiastical government, therefore, was not, at the time when this Epistle was written, in the hands of a Diocesan Bishop at Jerusalem. To say the least, such a fact receives no countenance from the Epistle to the Hebrews. These are the only passages, in which ruling, and the character of Rulers, in the Church, are directly mentioned in the Scriptures. I presume it is plain from these
passages, that Ruling is, at least, as directly, and as extensive. ly, ascribed to Elders, as to Bishops; and that, so far as these texts are concerned, it belongs to the former as extensively, as to the latter.
But Preaching is every where in the Scriptures exhibited as an employment, superior to that of Ruling. In the passage, quoted from 1 Tim. v. 17, this truth is decisively exhibited. Let the Elders, who rule well, be accounted worthy of double honour; (that is, of high honour ;) especially they, who labour in the word and doctrine. Here St. Paul directs that Preaching Elders should be accounted worthy of more honour than Ruling Elders. As the Rulers are here supposed to Rule well; that is, to do their duty faithfully; it is clear, that the superior honour given to those, who preach, is given only on account of the superiority of their employment.
Preaching was the first business, on which the Apostles, and afterwards the Seventy, were sent. It was also, the first active business of Christ himself; as he has told us in Luke iv. 18, quoted from Is. Ixi. 1. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.
Of the Apostles it is said, Mark iii. 14, And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. When they went out on their first mission, Christ said to them, Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ; and as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Math. x. 6,7.
To the Seventy, he said, Into whatsoever City ye enter, heal the sick, that are therein; and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Luke x. 8, 9.
Christ, saith St. Paul, sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.
Again ; I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation. Rom. i. 16.
Again ; When it pleased God, who separated me from my Mother's womb, and called me by his Grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen. Gal. i. 15.
According to this scheme, the Scriptures are full of commands, exhortations, discussions, descriptions, and other exhibitions,