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and unquestionable monuments of antiquity, on the common judgment and practice of the greatest saints, persons most renowned for wisdom and piety in the church.
Reason plainly doth require such subordinations; for that without them it is scarce possible to preserve any durable concord or charity in Christian societies, to establish any decent harmony in the worship and service of God, to check odious scandals, to prevent or repress baneful factions, to guard our religion from being overspread with pernicious heresies, to keep the church from being shattered into numberless sects, and thence from being crumbled into nothing; in fine, for any good time to uphold the profession and practice of Christianity itself for how, if there be not settled corporations of Christian people, having bulk and strength sufficient by joint endeavor to maintain the truth, honor, and interest of their religion; if the church should only consist of independent and incoherent particles, (like dust or sand,) easily scattered by any wind of opposition from without, or by any commotion within; if Christendom should be merely a Babel of confused opinions and practices; how, I say, then could Christianity subsist? how could the simple, among so discordant apprehensions, be able to discern the truth of it? how would the wise be tempted to dislike it, being so mangled and disfigured? what an object of contempt and scorn would it be to the profaner world, in such a case! It needeth therefore considerable societies to uphold it; but no society (especially of any large extent) can abide in order and peace, under the management of equal and co-ordinate powers; without a single undivided authority, enabled to moderate affairs, and reduce them to a point, to arbitrate emergent cases of difference, to put good orders in execution, to curb the adversaries of order and peace: these things cannot be well performed, where there is a parity of many concurrents, apt to dissent, and able to check each other; no democracy can be supported without borrowing somewhat from monarchy; no body can live without a head; an army cannot be without a general, a senate without a president, a corporation without a supreme magistrate this all experience attesteth; this even the chief impugners of episcopal presidency do by their practice confess; who for prevention of disorder have
been fain of their own heads to devise ecclesiastical subordinations of classes, provinces, and nations; and to appoint moderators (or temporary bishops) in their assemblies; so that reason hath forced the dissenters from the church to imitate it.
If there be not inspectors over the doctrine and manners of the common clergy, there will be many who will say and do any thing; they will in teaching please their own humor, or soothe the people, or serve their own interests; they will indulge themselves in a licentious manner of life; they will clash in their doctrines, and scatter the people, and draw them into factions.
It is also very necessary for preserving the unity and communion of the parts of the Catholic church; seeing single persons are much fitter to maintain correspondence than headless bodies.
The very credit of religion doth require that there should be persons raised above the common level, and endued with eminent authority, to whose care the promoting it should be committed; for such as the persons are, who manage any profession, such will be the respect yielded thereto if the ministers of religion be men of honor and authority, religion itself will be venerable; if those be mean, that will become contemptible.
The holy Scripture also doth plainly enough countenance this distinction; for therein we have represented one angel presiding over principal churches, which contained several presbyters; therein we find episcopal ordination and jurisdiction exercised; we have one bishop constituting presbyters in divers cities of his diocese; ordering all things therein concerning ecclesiastical discipline; judging presbyters, rebuking, μerà maoñs éñirayñs, with all authority, (or imperiousness, as it were; Tit. ii. 15.) and reconciling offenders, secluding heretics and scandalous persons.
In the Jewish church there were an high-priest, chief-priest, a sanhedrim, or senate, or synod.
The government of congregations among God's ancient people (which it is probable was the pattern that the Apostles, no affecters of needless innovation, did follow in establishing ecclesiastical discipline among Christians) doth hereto agree; for in their synagogues, answering to our Christian churches,
they had, as their elders and doctors, so over them an dpxɩovv άywyos, the head of the eldership, and president of the synagogue.
The primitive general use of Christians most effectually doth back the Scripture, and interpret it in favor of this distinction; scarce less than demonstrating it constituted by the Apostles; for how otherwise is it imaginable that all the churches founded by the Apostles, in several most distant and disjoined places, (at Jerusalem, at Antioch, at Alexandria, at Ephesus, at Corinth, at Rome,) should presently conspire in acknowlegement and use of it? how could it without apparent confederacy be formed, how could it creep in without notable clatter, how could it be admitted without considerable opposition, if it were not in the foundation of those churches laid by the Apostles? How is it likely that in those times of grievous persecution, falling chiefly on the bishops, (when to be eminent among Christians yielded slender reward, and exposed to extreme hazard; when to seek pre-eminence was in effect to court danger and trouble, torture and ruin,) an ambition of irregularly advancing themselves above their brethren should so generally prevail among the ablest and best Christians? How could those famous martyrs for the Christian truth be some of them so unconscionable as to affect, others so irresolute as to yield to such injurious encroachments? and how could all the holy fathers (persons of so renowned, so approved wisdom and integrity) be so blind as not to discern such a corruption, or so bad as to abet it? How indeed could all God's church be so weak as to consent in judgment, so base as to comply in practice with it? In fine, how can we conceive that all the best monuments of antiquity down from the beginning (the acts, the epistles, the histories, the commentaries, the writings of all sorts coming from the blessed martyrs, and most holy confessors of our faith) should conspire to abuse us; the which do speak nothing but bishops; long catalogues and rows of bishops succeeding in this and that city; bishops contesting for the faith against Pagan idolaters, and heretical corrupters of Christian doctrine; bishops here teaching and planting our religion by their labors, there suffering and watering it with their blood?
I could not but touch this point: but I cannot insist thereon;
the full discussion of it, and vindication of the truth from the cavils advanced against the truth by modern dissenters from the church, having employed voluminous treatises; I shall only farther add, that if any man be so dully or so affectedly ignorant as not to see the reason of the case, and the dangerous cousequences of rejecting this ancient form of discipline; if any be so overweeningly presumptuous as to question the faith of all history, or to disavow those monuments and that tradition, on the testimony whereof even the truth and certainty of our religion, and all its sacred oracles do rely; if any be so perversely contentious as to oppose the custom and current practice of the churches through all ages down to the last age; so self-conceitedly arrogant as to condemn or slight the judgment and practice of all the Fathers, (together also with the opinion of the later most grave divines, who have judged episcopal presidency needful, or expedient, where practicable;) so peevishly refractory as to thwart the settled order of that church in which he was baptised, together with the law of the country in which he was born; on such a person we may look as one utterly invincible and intractable: so weak a judgment, and so strong a will, who can hope by reason to convert? I shall say no more to that point.
The youμevo then (the guides and governors) in our text are primarily the bishops, as the superior and chief guides, each in his place according to order peaceably established; then secondarily the presbyters, in their station as guides inferior, together with the deacons as their assistants: such the church always hath had, and such, by God's blessing, our church now hath, toward whom the duty of obedience is to be performed.
To the consideration of that I should now proceed: but first it seemeth expedient to remove a main obstruction to that performance; which is this: a misprision, or doubt concerning the persons of our guides and governors; for in vain it would be to teach or persuade us to obey them, if we do not know who they are, or will not acknowlege them for as in religion it is primus Deorum cultus Deos credere, the first worship of God to believe God,' as Seneca saith: so it is the first part of our obedience to our governors to avow them; it is at least abso
lutely prerequisite thereto. It was of old a precept of St. Paul to the Thessalonians; We beseech you, brethren, to know those who labor among you, and preside over you:' and another to the Corinthians : Submit yourselves,' saith he, to such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth :' then he subjoineth, ἐπιγινώσκετε τοὺς τοιούτους, acknowlege such. There were, it seemeth, those in the apostolical times, who would not know or acknowlege their guides; there were even those who would not admit the Apostles themselves, as St. John saith of Diotrephes, who resisted their words, as St. Paul saith of Alexander, to whom the Apostles were not Apostles, as St. Paul intimateth concerning some, in regard to himself: there were then pseud-apostles, who excluded the true Apostles, intruding themselves into that high office: no wonder then, it may be, that now, in these dregs of time, there should be many who disavow and desert their true guides, transferring the observance due to them on bold pretenders; who are not indeed guides, but seducers; not governors, but usurpers, and sacrilegious invaders of this holy office: the duty we speak of cannot be secured without preventing or correcting this grand mistake; and this we hope to compass by representing a double character, or description, one of the true guides, another of the counterfeits; by comparing which we may easily distinguish them, and consequently be induced dutifully to avow and follow the one sort, wisely to disclaim and decline the other.
Those, I say, then, who constantly do profess and teach that sound and wholesome doctrine, which was delivered by our Lord and his Apostles in word and writing, was received by their disciples in the primitive churches, was transmitted and confirmed by general tradition, was sealed by the blood of the blessed martyrs, and propagated by the labors of the holy Fathers: the which also manifestly recommendeth and promoteth true reverence and piety toward God, justice and charity toward men, order and quiet in human societies, purity and sobriety in each man's private conversation.
Those who celebrate the true worship of God, and administer the holy mysteries of our religion in a serious, grave, decent manner, purely and without any notorious corruption, either by