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A preface to the reader.
If thy inquiry be only after the substance of the truth in the ensuing treatise contended for, I desire thee not to stay at all upon this preliminary discourse, but to proceed thither where it is expressly handled from the Scriptures, without the intermixture of any human testimonies or other less necessary circumstances, wherein perhaps many of them may not be concerned whose interest yet lies in the truth itself, and it is precious to their souls. That which now I intend and aim at is, to give an account to the learned reader of some things nearly relating to the doctrine whose protection, in the strength of Him who gives to his [servants] suitable helps for the works and employments he calls them to, I have undertaken, and what entertainment it hath formerly found and received in the church, and among the saints of God. For the accomplishment of this intendment a brief mention of the doctrine itself will make way. Whom in this controversy we intend by the names of “saints” and “believers,” the treatise following will abundantly manifest. The word perseverantia is of most known use in ecclesiastical writers: Austin hath a book with the inscription of it on its forehead. The word in the New Testament signifying the same thing is ἐπιμονή. Of them that followed Paul, it is said that he “persuaded them ἐπιμένειν τῇ χάριτι τοῦ Θεοῦ,” Acts xiii. 43; that is, “to persevere.” Ὑπομονή is of the same import: Ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται, Matt. x. 22, — “He that persevereth to the end.” The Vulgar Latin renders that word almost constantly by persevero. Καρτερία is a word also of the same signification, and which the Scripture useth to express the same thing. Κράτος is sometimes by a metathesis expressed κάρτος· thence is κάρτα, valde; and καρτερέω, spoken of him who is of a valiant, resolved mind. “By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, τὸν γὰρ ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν ἐκαρτέρησε,” Heb. xi. 27; — “As eyeing the Invisible, he endured (his trial) with a constant, valiant mind.” Προσκαρτερέω from thence is most frequently to persevere, Acts i. 14; and Ἦσαν δὲ προσκαρτεροῦντες τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων, Acts ii. 42, — “They persevered in the doctrine of the apostles.” Προσκαρτέρησις, once used in the New Testament, is rendered by our translators, “perseverance,” Eph. vi. 18. In what variety of expression the thing is revealed in the Scripture is in the treatise itself abundantly declared. The Latin word is classical: persevero is constanter sum severus. In that sense, as Seneca says, “Res severa est verum gaudium.” Its extreme in excess is pertinacy, if these are not rather distinguished from their objects than in themselves. Varro, lib. iv. De Ling. Lat., tells us that pertinacia is a continuance or going on in that wherein one ought not to continue or proceed; perseverantia is that whereby any one continues in that wherein he ought so to do. Hence is that definition of it commonly given by the schoolmen from Austin, lib. lxxxiii. qu. 31, 20who took it from Cicero (one they little acquainted themselves withal), lib. ii. De Invent. cap. liv. It is, say they, “In ratione bene consideratâ stabilis et perpetua permansio.”
And this at present may pass for a general description of it that is used in an ethical and evangelical sense. Perseverance was accounted a commendable thing among philosophers. Morally, perseverance is that part of fortitude whereby the mind is established in the performance of any good and necessary work, notwithstanding the assaults and opposition it meets withal, with that tediousness and wearisomeness which the protraction of time in the pursuit of any affairs is attended withal. Aristotle informs us that it is exercised about things troublesome, lib. vii. cap. vi., Eth. Nicom., giving a difference between continence with its opposite vice, and forbearance or perseverance: Τούτων δ’ ὁ μεν περὶ ἡδονὰς, ἀκρατὴς, ὁ δ’ ἐγκρατής. Ὁ δὲ περὶ λύπας μαλακὸς, ὁ δὲ καρτερικός. He that abides in his undertaken work, so it be good and honest, notwithstanding that trouble and perplexity he may meet withal, is καρτερικός. Hence he tells us that καρτερικῶς ζῇν, as well as σωφρόνως, is not pleasant to many, lib. x. cap. ix.; and that because so to live implies difficulty and opposition. And he also, as Varro in the place above mentioned, distinguishes it from pertinacy. And of men infected with that depraved habit of mind he says there are three sorts, ἰδιογνώμονες, ἀμαθεῖς, and ἄγροικοι. All these are, in his judgment, ἰσχυρογνώμονες, Nicom., lib. vii. cap. ix.; which perverse disposition of spirit he there dearly manifests to be sufficiently differenced from a stable, resolved frame of mind, whatever it may resemble it in. Now, though there is no question but that of two persons continuing in the same work or opinion, one may do it out of pertinacy, the other out of perseverance, yet amongst men, who judge of the minds of others by their fruits, and of the acts of their minds by their objects, these two dispositions or habits are universally distinguished, as before by Varro. Hence the terms of “pertinacy” and “obstinacy” being thrust into the definition of heresy by them who renounce any infallible living judge and determiner in matters of faith, to make way for the inflicting of punishment on the entertainers and maintainers thereof. They take no thought of proving it such, but only because it is found in persons embracing such errors. The same affection of mind, with the same fruits and demonstrations of it, in persons embracing the truth, would by the same men he termed perseverance. But this is not that whereof I treat.
Evangelical perseverance is from the Scripture at large explained in the book itself. As it relates to our acceptation with God, and the immutability of justification (which is the chief and most eminent part of the doctrine contended for), as it hath no conformity in any thing with the moral perseverance before described, so indeed it is not comprehended in that strict notion and signification of the word itself which denotes the continuation of some act or acts in us, and not the uninterruptibleness of any act of God. This, then, is the cause of perseverance, rather than perseverance itself, yet such a cause as being established, the effect will certainly and uncontrollably ensue. They who go about to assert a perseverance of saints cut off from the absolute unchangeableness of the decree, purpose, and love of God, attended with a possibility of a contrary event, and that not only in respect of the free manner of its carrying on, whereby he that wills to persevere may not will so to do, but also in respect of the issue and end itself, will, I doubt not, if they are serious in what they pretend, find themselves entangled in their undertaking. As perseverance is a grace in the subjects on whom it is bestowed, so it relates either to the 21spiritual habit of faith or the principle of new life they have received from God, or to the actual performance of those duties wherein they ought to abide. In the first sense it consists in the point of being or not being. Whilst the habit of faith remains, there is in respect thereof an uninterrupted perseverance in him in whom it is; and this we contend for. As it respects actions flowing from that habit and principle, it expatiates itself in a large field; for as it imports not at all a perpetual performance of such acts without intermission (which were naturally as well as spiritually impossible, whilst we carry about us a “body of death”), so neither doth it necessarily imply a constant tenor of proceeding in the performance of them, but is consistent with a change in degrees of performance, and in other respects also not now to be insisted on. Perseverance in this sense being the uninterrupted continuance of habitual grace in the hearts of believers, without intercision, with such a walking in obedience as God, according to the tenor of the new covenant, will accept, upon the whole of the matter it is in its own nature (as every thing else is that hath not its being from itself) liable and obnoxious to alteration; and therefore must be built and reposed on that which is in itself immutable, that it may be rendered, on that supposition, immutable also. Therefore is perseverance in this sense resolved into that cause of it before mentioned; which to do is the chief endeavour of the following treatise. Of the groundlessness of their opinion who, granting final perseverance, do yet plead for the possibility of a final apostasy and an intercision of faith, no more need be spoken but what, upon the account last mentioned, hath been argued already. Some discourses have passed both of old and of late concerning the nature of this perseverance, and wherein it doth properly consist. Many affirm it not really to differ from the habit of faith and love itself; for which Bradwardin earnestly contends, lib. ii. De Cau. Dei. cap. vii., concluding his disputation, that “Perseverantia habitualis est justitia habitualiter preservata; perseverantia actualis est justitiæ perseverantia actualis, ipsum vero perseverare, est justitiam præservare;” whereupon (“suo more:”) he infers this corollary: “Quod nomen perseverantiæ nullam rem absolutam essentialiter significat, sed accidentaliter, et relative, charitatem videlicet, sive justitiam, cum respectu futuræ permansionis continue usque in finem; et quod non improbabiliter posset dici perseverantiam esse ipsam relationem hujus.” And therefore in the next chapter, to that objection, “If perseverance be no more but charity or righteousness, then every one that hath once obtained these, or true grace, must also persevere,” he returns no answer at all, plainly insinuating his judgment to be so; of which afterward. And therefore he spends his 13th chapter of the same book to prove that the Holy Spirit is that “auxilium,” as he called it, whereby any persevere. And, chap. i., he resolves all preservation from being overcome by temptation, or not being tempted to a prevalency (the same for substance with perseverance), into the will and purpose of God. “Quicunque,” saith he, “non tentatur, hoc necessario est a deo, quod non tentatur. Sicut 11a pars 13i primi probat; et per 22um primi, Deus necessario habet aliquem actum voluntatis circa talem non tentationem, et non nolitionem, quia tunc per decimum primi non tentaretur, ergo volitionem, quæ per idem decimum ipsum tentari non sinit,” etc. Others render it as a gift superadded to faith and love; of which judgment Austin seems to have been, who is followed by sundry of the schoolmen, with many of the divines of the reformed churches. Hence is that conclusion of Alvarez, De Auxil., lib. x. disp. 103, “Secundum fidem catholicam asserendum est, præter gratiam habitualem et virtutes infusas esse necessarium ad perseverandum 22in bono usque in finem auxilium speciale, supernaturale scilicet donum perseverantiæ.” And of this proposition he says, “In hac omnes catholici conveniunt.” Of the same judgment was his master, Thomas, lib. 3 Con. Gen. cap. clv.; where, also, he gives this reason of his opinion: “Illud quod natura sua est variabile, ad hoc quod figatur in uno, indiget auxilio alicujus moventis immobilis; sed liberum arbitrium, etiam existens in gratia habituali, ad huc manet variabile, et flexibile a bono in malum: ergo ad hoc quod figatur in bono, et perseveret in illo usque ad finem, indiget speciali Dei auxilio:” — the same argument having been used before him by Bradwardin, though to another purpose, namely, not to prove perseverance to be a superadded gift to saving grace, which, as before was observed, he denied, but to manifest that it was immediately and wholly from God. His words are, lib. ii. cap. viii., Corol., “Sicut secundum primi docet, omne quod est naturale, et non est per se tale, seal est mutabile in non tale, si manere debeat immutatum, oportet quod innitatur continue alicui per se fixo; quare et continue quilibit justus Deo.” The same schoolmen also (a generation of men exceeding ready to speak of any thing, though they know not what they speak nor whereof they affirm) go yet farther, some of them, and will distinguish between the gift of perseverance and the gift [of] confirmation in grace! He before mentioned, after a long dispute (namely, 104), concludes: “Ex his sequitur differentiam inter donum perseverantiæ et confirmationis in gratia” (he means that which is granted in via) “in hoc consistere, quod donum perseverantiæ nullam perfectionem intrinsecam constituit in ipsa gratia habituali, quod tamen perfectionem intrinsecam illi tribuit confirmatio in gratia.” What this intrinsical perfection of habitual grace, given it by confirmation, is, he cannot tell; for in those who are so confirmed in grace he asserts only an impeccability upon supposition, and that not alone from their intrinsical principle, as it is with the blessed in heaven, but from help and assistance also daily communicated from without. Durandus, in 3 d. 3 q. 4, assigns the deliverance from sin, which those who are confirmed in grace do obtain, unto the Holy Ghost. So far well; but he kicks down his milk by his addition, that he doth it only by the removal of all occasion of sin. But of these persons, and their judgment on the point under debate, more afterward.
For the thing itself last proposed, on what foot of account it is placed, and on what foundation asserted, the treatise itself will discover. That the thing aimed at is not to be straitened or restrained to any one peculiar act of grace will easily appear. The main foundation of that which we plead for is the eternal purpose of God, which his own nature requireth to be absolutely immutable and irreversible. The eternal act of the will of God designing some to salvation by Christ, infallibly to be obtained, for “the praise of the glory of his grace,” is the bottom of the whole, even that foundation which standeth for ever, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” For the accomplishment of this eternal purpose, and for the procurement of all the good things that lie within the compass of its intendment, are the oblation and intercession, the whole mediatory undertaking of Christ, taking away sin, bringing in life and immortality, interposed, giving farther causal influence into the truth contended for. In him and for his sake, as God graciously, powerfully, and freely gives his Holy Spirit;, faith, and all the things that accompany salvation, unto all them whom he accepts and pardons, by his being made “sin for them” and “righteousness unto them;” so he takes them thereby into an everlasting covenant that shall not be broken, and hath therein given them innumerable promises that he will continue to be their God for ever, and 23preserve them to be, and in being, his people. To this end, because the principle of grace and living to him, as in them inherent, is a thing in its own nature, changeable and liable to failing, he doth, according to his promise, and for the accomplishment of his purpose, daily make out to them, by his Holy Spirit, from the great treasury and storehouse thereof, the Lord Jesus Christ, helps and supplies, increasing of faith, love, and holiness, recovering them from falls, healing their backslidings, strengthening them with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; so preserving them by his power through faith unto salvation. And in this way of delivering the doctrine contended about, it is clearly made out that the disputes mentioned are as needless as groundless; so that we shall not need to take them into the state of the controversy in hand, though I shall have occasion once more to reflect upon them when I come to the consideration of the doctrine of the schoolmen in reference to the opinion proposed to debate. The main of our inquiry is after the purpose, covenant, and promises of God, the undertaking of Christ, the supplies of grace promised and bestowed in him; on which accounts we do assert and maintain that all true believers, — who are, in being so, interested in all those causes of preservation, — shall infallibly be preserved unto the end in the favour of God, and in such a course of gospel obedience as he will accept in Jesus Christ.
That, as was formerly said, which at present I aim at in reference to this truth is, to declare its rise and progress, its course and opposition, which it hath found in several ages of the church, with its state and condition at this day, in respect of acceptance with the people of God.
Its rise, with all other divine truths, it owes only to revelation from God, manifested in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Some of the most eminent places wherein it is delivered in the Old Testament are, Gen. iii. 15, xvii. 1; Deut. xxxiii. 3; Josh. i. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 22; Ps. i. 3, xxiii. 4, 6, xxxvii. 39, 40, lii. 8, 9, lxxxix. 31–36, xxxiii. 9–11, xcii. 12, etc.; Isa. xxvii. 3, xlvi. 4, lix. 21, liv. 9, 10, iv. 5, 6, xl. 27–31, xliii. 1–7; Jer. iii. 23, xxxi. 31–34, xxxii. 38–40; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27; Hos. ii. 19, 20; Zech. x. 12; Mal. iii. 6, with innumerable other places. In the New Testament God hath not left this truth and work of his grace without witness; as in sundry other places, so it is testified unto Matt. vi. 13, vii. 24, 25, xii. 20, xvi. 18, xxiv. 24; Luke i. 70–75, viii. 8, xxii. 32; John iii. 36, iv. 13, 14, v. 24, vi. 35–57, vii. 38, 39, viii. 35, 36, x. 27–30, xiii. 1, xiv. 15–17, xvi. 27, xvii. throughout; Acts ii. 47, xiii. 48; Rom. vi. 14, viii. 1, 16, 17, 28–34, etc.; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9, x. 13, 14, xv. 49, 58; 2 Cor. i. 21, 22; Eph. i. 13, 14, iii. 17, iv. 30, v. 25–27; Gal. ii. 20; Phil. i. 6, ii. 13; 1 Thess. v. 24; 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18; Titus i. 1; Heb. vi. 19, x. 38, 39, xii. 9, 10, xiii. 5; 1 Pet. i. 2–5; 1 John ii. 19, 27, iii. 9, 19, v. 13, 18; Jude 1; Rev. xx. 6. So plentifully hath the Lord secured this sacred truth, wherein he hath inwrapped so much (if not, as in the means of conveyance, the whole) of that peace, consolation, and joy, which he is willing the heirs of promise should receive. Whether the faith hereof, thus plentifully delivered to the saints, found acceptance with the primitive Christians, to the most of whom it was “given not only to believe but also to suffer for Christ,” to me is unquestionable. And I know no better proof of what those first churches did believe than by showing what they ought to believe; which I shall unquestionably be persuaded they did believe, unless most pregnant testimony be given of their apostasy. That Paul believed it for himself and concerning others is evident. Rom. viii. 38, 39; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9; Phil. i. 6; Heb. vi. 9, 10, are sufficient proof of his 24faith herein. That he built up others in the same persuasion, to the enjoyment of the same peace and assurance with himself, is undeniable. And if there be any demonstration to be made of the belief of the first Christians, if any evidence comparable unto this, I shall not deny but that it ought to be attended unto. But that we may not seem willing to decline the consideration of what those who went before us in the several ages and generations past apprehended, and have by any means communicated unto us of their thoughts, about the business of our contest (having no reason so to be), I shall, after a little preparation made to that work, present the reader with something of my observations to that end and purpose.
Of the authority of the ancients in matters of religion and the worship of God, of the right use and improvement of their writings, of the several considerations that are to be had and exercised by them who would read them with profit and advantage, after many disputes and contests between the Papists and divines of the reformed churches, the whole concernment of that controversy is so clearly stated, managed, and resolved by Monsieur Daillé, in his book of the “Right Use of the Fathers,” that I suppose all farther labour in that kind may be well spared. Those who intend to weigh their testimony to any head of Christian doctrine do commonly distinguish them into three great periods of time. The first of these is comprehensive of them who lived and wrote before the doctrine concerning which they are called out to give in their thoughts and verdict had received any signal opposition, and eminent discussion in the church on that account. Such are the writers of the first three hundred years, before the Nicene council, in reference to the doctrine of the Trinity; and so the succeeding writers, before the stating of the Macedonian, Eutychian, and Nestorian heresies. In the next are they ranked who bare the burden and heat of the opposition made to any truth, and on that occasion wrote expressly and at large on the controverted doctrines; which is the condition of Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, and some others, in that Arian controversy. And in the last place succeed those who lived after such concussions, which are of less or more esteem, according as the doctrines inquired after were less or more corrupted in the general apostasy of the latter days. According to this order, our first period of time will end with the rise of the Pelagian heresy, which gave occasion to the thorough, full, and clear discussion of the whole doctrine concerning the grace of God, whereof that in whose defence we are engaged is no small portion; the next, of those whom God raised up to make head against that subtle opposer of his grace, with his followers, during the space of a hundred years and somewhat onwards ensuing the promulgation of that heresy. What have been the thoughts of men in the latter ages until the Reformation, and of the Romanists since to this day, manifested in a few pregnant instances, will take up the third part of this design. Of the judgment of the Reformed Churches, as they are commonly called, I shall speak particularly in the close of this discourse. For the first of these: Not to insist on the paucity of writers in the first three hundred years, sundry single persons in the following ages have severally written three times as much as we have left and remaining of all the others (the names of many who are said to have written being preserved by Eusebius, Eccles. Hist., and Hierom, Lib. de Script., their writings being perished in their days), nor in general of that corruption whereunto they have almost every one of them been unquestionably exposed, I must be forced to preface the nomination of them with some considerations:—
1. The first [consideration will be found] in that known passage of Hegesippus, 25in Euseb. Hist. Eccles., lib. iii. cap. xxxii.: Ὡς ἄρα μέχρι τῶν τότε χρόνων, παρθένος καθαρὰ καὶ ἀδιάφθορος ἔμεινεν ἡ ἐκκλησία· — εἰς δ’ ὁ ἱερὸς τῶν ἀποστόλων χορὸς διάφορον εἴληφει τοῦ βίου τέλος, παρεληλύθει τὲ ἡ γενεὰ ἐκείνη τῶν αὐταῖς ἀκοαῖς τῆς ἐνθέου σοφίας ἐπακοῦσαι κατηξιωμένων, τηνικαῦτα τῆς ἀθέου πλάνης τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐλάμβανεν ἡ σύστασις, διὰ τῆς τῶν ἐτεροδιδασκάλων ἀπάτης, οἳ καὶ, ἄτε μηδενὸς ἔτι τῶν ἀποστόλων λειπομένου, γυμνῇ λοιπὸν ἤδν τῇ κεφαλῇ τῷ τῆς ἀληθείας κηρύγματι τὴν ψευδώνυμον γνῶσιν ἀντικηρύττειν ἐπεχείρουν. So far he, setting out the corruption of the church, even as to doctrine, immediately after the apostles fell asleep; whereof whosoever will impartially, and with disengaged judgment, search into the writings of those days that do remain, will perhaps find more cause than is commonly imagined with him to complain.
2. The main work of the writers of the first ages being to contend with heathenish idolaters, to convince them of their madness and folly; to write apologies for the worship of God in Christ in general, so to dissuade their rulers from persecution; or in contesting with heretics, for the most part appearing to be men either corrupt in their lives, or mad and brain-sick, as we say, as to their imaginations, or denying the truth of the person of Christ, — what can we expect from them as delivered directly and on set purpose to the matter of our present contest? Some principles may in them possibly be discovered from whence, by a regular deduction, some light may be obtained into their thoughts concerning the points in difference. Thus Junius thinks, and not without cause, that the whole business of predestination may be stated upon this one principle, “That faith is the free gift of God, flowing from his predestination and mercy;” and concerning this he saith, “Hoc autem omnes patres uno consensu ex Christo et Paulo agnoverunt; ipse Justinus Martyr in Apolog. ii., et gravissime veto Clemens Alexandrinus, in hac alioquin palæstra non ita exercitatus ut sequentia secula,” Hom., lib. ii. “Basilii et Valentini dogma esse dicit, quod fides a natura sit,” Consid. Senten. Pet. Baroni. Without this what advantage can be taken, or what use can be made, for the discovery of the mind of any of the ancients, by cropping off some occasional expressions from their occasions and aims, I know not. Especially would I more peremptorily affirm this could I imagine any of them wrote as Jerome affirms of himself that he sometimes did, Epist. ad August., which is among his epistles, lxxxix. T. 2. “Itaque,” saith he, “ut simpliciter fateor, legi hæc omnia, et in mente mea plurima coacervans, accito notario vel mea, vel aliena dictavi, nec ordinis, nec verborum interdum nec sensuum memor.” Should any one say so of himself in these days, he would be accounted little better than a madman. Much, then, on this account (or at least not much to the purpose) is not to be expected from the fathers of the first ages.
3. Another observation to our purpose lies well expressed in the beginning of the 14th chapter of Bellarmine’s second book de Grat. et Lib. Arbit. “Præter Scripturas adferunt alia testimonia patrum,” saith he, speaking of those who opposed God’s free predestination; to which he subjoins, “Neque est hoc novum argumentum, sed antiquissimum. Scribit enim S. Prosper in Epistola ad S. Augustinum, Gallos qui sententiam ejusdem Augustini de predestinatione calumniabantur, illud potissimum objicere solitos quod ea sententia doctrinæ veterum videbatur esse contraria. Sed respondet idem Augustinus in Lib. de Bono Perseverantiæ, veteres patres, qui ante Pelagium floruerunt, quæstionem istam nunquam accurate tractasse sed incidenter solum, et quasi per transitum illam attigisse. Addit vero, in fundamento hujus sententiæ (quod est gratiam Dei non præveniri 26ab ullo opere nostro sed contra, ab illa omnia opera nostra præveniri, ira ut nihil omnino boni, quod attinet ad salutem sit in nobis, quod non est nobis ex Deo), convenire Catholicos omnes; et ibidem citat Cyprianum, Ambrosium, et Nazianzenum, quibus addere possumus Basilium et Chrysostomum.” To the same purpose, with application to a particular person, doth that great and holy doctor discourse, De Doctrin. Christiana, lib. iii. cap. xxxiii. Saith he, “Non erat expertus hanc hæresin Tychonius, quæ nostro tempore exorta, multum nos, ut gratiam Dei, quæ per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum est, adversus eam defenderemus exercuit, et secundum id quod ait apostolus, “oportet hæreses esse, ut probati manifesti fiunt in nobis,” multo vlgilantiores, diligentioresque reddidit, ut adverteremus in Scripturis sanctis, quod istum Tychonium minus attentum minusque, sine hoste solicitum fugit.” That also of Jerome in his second Apology against Rufinus, in reference to a most weighty article of Christian religion, is known to all. “Fieri potest,” saith he, “ut vel simpliciter erraverint, vel alio sensu scripserint, vel a librariis imperitis eorum paulatim scripta corrupta sint; vel certe antequam in Alexandria, quasi dæmonium meridianum, Arius nasceretur, innocenter quædam, et minus caute locuti sunt, et quæ non possunt perversorum hominum calumniam declinare.” And what he spake of the writers before Arius in reference to the person of Christ, we may of them before Pelagius in reference to his grace. Hence Pererius, in Rom. cap. viii., disput. 22, tells us (how truly ipse viderit, I am not altogether of his mind) that [as] for those authors that lived before Austin’s time, all the Greek fathers, and a considerable part of the Latin, were of opinion that the cause of predestination was the foresight which God had either of men’s good works or of their faith; either of which opinions, he assures us, is manifestly contrary to the authority of the Scriptures, and particularly to the doctrine of St Paul. I am not, as I said, wholly of his mind, partly upon the account of the observations made by his fellow-Jesuit out of Austin, before mentioned, partly upon other accounts also. Upon these and the like considerations, much, I presume, to the business in hand will not be produced on either side from the fathers that wrote before the rise of the Pelagian heresy. And if any one of the parties at this day litigant about the doctrine of the grace of God should give that advice that Sisinius and Agelius the Novatians sometimes gave, as Sozomen reports of them (Hist. Eccles., lib. vii. cap. xii.), to Nectarius, by him communicated to the emperor Theodosius, to have the quarrel decided by those that wrote before the rise of the controversy, as it would be unreasonable in itself, so I persuade myself neither party would accept of the condition, neither had the Catholics of those days got any thing if they had attended to the advice of these Novatians. But, these few observations premised, something as to particular testimonies may be attended unto.
That we may proceed in some order, not leaving those we have nothing to say to, nor are willing to examine, whilst, they are but thin and come not in troops, unsaluted, the first writings that are imposed on us after the canonical Scriptures are the eight books of Clemens, commonly called the Apostles’ Constitutions, being pretended to be written by him at their appointment, with the Canons ascribed to the same persons. These we shall but salute: for besides that they are faintly defended by any of the Papists, disavowed and disclaimed as apocryphal by the most learned of them, as Bellarmine, De Script. Eccles. in Clem., who approves only of fifty canons out of eighty-five; Baronius, An. Dom. 102, 14, who adds thirty more; and Binius, with a little enlargement of canons, in Tit. Can. T. 1, Con. p. 17; 27and have been thoroughly disproved and decried by all protestant writers that have had any occasion to deal with them; their folly and falsity, their impostures and triflings, have of late been so fully manifested by Dallæus, De Pseudepigraphis Apostol., that nothing need be added thereunto. Of him may Doctor H. H.55 The initials of Henry Hammond. An account of Owen’s controversy with him will be found in a note at the end of the preface. — Ed. learn the truth of that insinuation of his, Dissert. de Episcop. ii. cap. vi. sect. 3, “Canone apostolico secundo semper inter genuinos habito;” but of the confidence of this author in his assertions afterward. This, indeed (insisted on by Dallæus, and the learned Usher in his notes upon Ignatius), is childishly ridiculous in them, that whereas it is pretended that these Constitutions were made at a convention of the apostles, as lib. vi. cap. xiv., they are brought in discoursing ἡμεις οὖν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ γενόμενοι, Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας, Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου, etc. They are made to inform us, lib. ii. cap. lvii., that the Acts written by Luke and read in the churches are theirs, and the four books of the Gospel; whereas the story of the death of James (here said to be together with the apostles) is related Acts xii., and John, by the consent of all, wrote not his Gospel until after the dissolution of his associates. Also, they make Stephen and Paul to be together at the making of those Constitutions, lib. viii. cap. iv. (whereas the martyrdom of Stephen was before the conversion of Paul), and yet also mention the stoning of Stephen, lib. viii. cap. xlvi. They tell us whom they appointed bishops of Jerusalem after the death of James, and yet James is one of them who is met together with them, lib. vii. cap. xlviii. Nay, mention is made of Cerinthus, and that Mark the heretic, Menander, Basilides, and Saturninus, were known and taken notice of by the apostles, who all lived in the second century, about the reign of Hadrian, as Eusebius manifesteth, and Clem. Alex., Strom., lib. vii.
But, to leave such husks as these unto them who loathe manna, and will not feed on the bread that our heavenly Father hath so plentifully provided for all that live in his family or any way belong to his house, let us look onward to them that follow, of whose truth and honesty we have more assurance.
The first genuine piece that presents itself unto us on the roll of antiquity is that epistle of Clemens which, in the name of the church of Rome, he wrote to the divided church of Corinth; which being abundantly testified to of old, to the great contentment of the Christian world, was published here at Oxford some few years since, — a writing full of ancient simplicity, humility, and zeal. As to our present business, much, I confess, cannot be pleaded from hence, beyond a negative impeachment of that great and false clamour which our adversaries have raised, of the consent of the primitive Christians with them in their by-paths and ways of error. It is true, treating of a subject diverse from any of those heads of religion about which our contests are, it is not to be expected that he should anywhere plainly, directly, and evidently, deliver his judgment unto them. This, therefore, I shall only say, that in that whole epistle there is not one word, iota, or syllable, that gives countenance to the tenet of our adversaries in the matter of the saints’ perseverance; but that, on the contrary, there are sundry expressions asserting such a foundation of the doctrine we maintain as will with good strength infer the truth of it. Page 4, setting forth the virtues of the Corinthians before they fell into the schism that occasioned his epistle, he minds them that ἀγὼν ἦν ὑμῖν ἡμέρας τε καὶ νυκτὸς ὑπερ πάσης τῆς ἀδελφότητος, εἰς τὸ σώζεσθαι μετ’ ἐλέους καὶ 28συνειδήσεως τὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ. That God hath a certain number of elect to be saved, and for whose salvation, by his mercy, the church is to contend with him, is a principle wholly inconsistent with those on which the doctrine of the saints’ apostasy is bottomed. Corresponding hereunto is that passage of his concerning the will of God, p. 12: Πάντας οὖν τοῦς ἀγαπητοὺς αὐτοῦ βουλόμενος μετανοίας μετασχεῖν, ἐστήριξεν τῷ παντοκρατορικῷ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ. A mere consideration of this passage causeth me to recall what but now was spoken, as though the testimony given to the truth in this epistle were not so clear as might be desired. The words now repeated contain the very thesis contended for. It is the beloved of God (or his chosen) whom he will have made partakers of saving repentance; and hereunto “he establisheth them” (for with that word is the defect in the sentence to be supplied) “by,” or with, “the almighty will.” Because he will have his beloved partakers of saving repentance and the benefits thereof; he confirms and establishes them in it with his omnipotent or sovereign will. The inconsistency and irreconcilableness of this assertion with the doctrine of these saints’ apostasy, the learned reader needs not any assistance to manifest to him. Answerably hereunto he saith of God, Ἐκλογῆς μέρος (ἡμᾶς) ἐποίησεν ἑαυτῷ, p. 38 and p. 66: mentioning the blessedness of the forgiveness of sins, out of Ps. xxxii. he adds, Οὗτος ὁ μακαρισμὸς ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐκλελεγμένους ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν. The elect of whom he speaks are those on whom, through and for Christ, God bestows the blessedness of justification; elect they are of God antecedently to the obtaining of that blessedness, and through that they do obtain it: so that in that short sentence of this author, the great pillar of the saints’ perseverance, which is their free election, the root of all the blessedness which afterward they enjoy, is established. Other passages like to these there are in that epistle; which plainly deliver the primitive Christians of the church of Rome from any communion in the doctrine of the saints’ apostasy, and manifest their perseverance in the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, wherein they had been so plentifully instructed, not long before, by the epistle of Paul unto them.
He who upon the roll of antiquity presents himself in the next place to our consideration is the renowned Ignatius, concerning whom I desire to beg so much favour of the learned reader as to allow me a diversion unto some thoughts and observations that belong to another subject than that which I have now peculiarly in hand, before I come to give him a taste of his judgment on the doctrine under debate.
As this Ignatius, bishop of the church at Antioch, was in himself a man of an excellent spirit, eminent in holiness, and to whom, on the behalf of Christ, it was given not only to believe on him, but also suffer for him, and on that account of very great and high esteem among the Christians of that age wherein he lived, and sundry others following, so no great question can be made but that he wrote, towards the end of his pilgrimage, when he was on his way to be offered up, through the Holy Spirit, by the mouths of wild beasts, to Jesus Christ, sundry epistles to sundry churches that were of chiefest note and name in the countries about. The concurrent testimony of the ancients in this matter of her will give as good assurance as in this kind we are capable of; Eusebius reckons them up in order, so doth Jerome.
After them frequent mention is made of them by others, and special sayings in them are transcribed; and whereas it is urged by some that there is no mention of those epistles before the Nicene council, — before 29which time it is as evident as if it were written with the beams of the sun, that many false and supposititious writings had been imposed on and were received by many in the church (as the story of Paul and Thecla is mentioned and rejected by Tertull. de Baptis., Hermæ Pastor. by others), — it is answered, that they were mentioned by Irenæus some good while before. Lib. v. cap. xxviii., saith he, “Quemadmodum quidam de nostris dixit, propter martyrium in Deum adjudicatus ad bestias; quoniam frumentum sum Christi et per dentes bestiarum molor ut mundus panis Dei inveniar.” Which words, to the substance of them, are found in these epistles, though some say nothing is here intimated of any epistles or writings, but of a speech that might pass among the Christians by tradition, such as they had many among themselves, even of our Saviour’s, some whereof are mentioned by Grotius on these words of Paul, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What probability or ground for conviction there is in these or the like observations and answers is left to the judgment of all. This is certain, that the first mentioning of them in antiquities is to be clearly received (and that perhaps with more than the bare word of him that recites and approves of the Epistle of Jesus Christ to Abgarus the king of the Edessenes, or of him that reckons Seneca among the ecclesiastical writers upon the account of his epistles to Paul), or the following testimonies, which are heaped up in abundance by some who think (but falsely) that they have a peculiar interest inwrapped in the epistles now extant, will be of very small weight or value.
For my part, I am persuaded, with that kind of persuasion wherein in things of no greater moment I am content to acquiesce, that he did write seven epistles, and that much of what he so wrote is preserved in those that are now extant; concerning which the contests of learned men have drawn deep and run high in these latter days, though little to the advantage of the most that have laboured in that cause, as shall be manifested in the process of our discourse.
A late learned doctor,66 “Unicum D. Blondellum aut alterum fortasse inter omnes mortales Walonem Messalinum, cap. xxv. sect. 3.” in his dissertations about episcopacy, or dispute for it against Salmasius and Blondellus, tells us (that we may take a taste of his confidence in asserting), Dissert. ii. cap. xxiii., sect. 1, that Salmasius and Blondellus “mortalium omnium primi” thought these epistles to be feigned or counterfeit. And with more words, cap. xxiv. sect. 1, he would make us believe that these epistles of Ignatius were always of the same esteem with that of Clemens from Rome to the Corinthians, of which he treats at large in his fourth dissertation, or that of Polycarpus to the Philippians, which we have in Eusebius; and then he adds, that in the judgment of Salmasius and Blondellus, “Solus Ignatius οἴχεται cujus tamen epistolæ pari semper cum illis per universam ab omni ævo patrum nostrorum memoriam reverentia excipiebantur; nec prius a mortalium quovis in judicium vocabantur (multo minus ut in re certa et extra dubium posita inter plane ἀδόκιμα et κίβδηλα rejiciebantur), quam presbyteri Anglicani patribus suis contumeliam facere cœpissent iisque aut suppetias ferre, aut rem gratam facere (quibus illecebris adducti nescio), hi duo non ignobiles Presbyteranæ causæ hyperaspistæ in seipsos recepissent.” Of his two learned antagonists, one is dead, and the other almost blind, or probably they would have dealt not much more gently with the doctor for his parenthesis (“quibus illecebris adducti nescio”), than one of them formerly did (Salmas. De Subscribendis et Signandis Testamentis seu Specimen Consula. Animad. Heraldi., cap. i. p. 19, 30“Nuper quidem etiam nebulo in Anglia, Capellanus ut audio regis, Hammondus nomine, libro quem edidit de potestate clavium Salmasio iratus quod aliam quam ipse sententiam probet ac defendat, haud potuit majus convicium, quod ei dicerit, invenire, quam si grammaticum appellaret”) for his terming him a grammarian; yet, indeed, of him (such was the hard entertainment he found on all hands), it is by many supposed that he was “illecebris adductus” (and they stick not to name the bait he was caught withal), wrought over in a manner to destroy the faith of that which he had before set up and established.
For the thing itself affirmed by the doctor, I cannot enough admire with what oscitancy or contempt he considers his readers (of which manner of proceeding this is very far from being the only instance), that he should confidently impose such things upon them. He that hath written so much about Ignatius, and doth so triumph in his authority, ought doubtless to have considered those concernments of his author which are obvious to every ordinary inquirer. Vedelius’ edition of Ignatius, at Geneva, came forth with his notes in the year 1623, long before either Salmasius or Blondellus had written any thing about the supposititiousness of these epistles; in the apology for Ignatius, thereto prefixed, he is forced to labour and sweat in the answer of one, whom he deservedly styles Virum doctissimum, arguing (not contemptibly) that Ignatius never wrote any such epistles, and that all those which were carried about in his name were false and counterfeit.
But perhaps the doctor had taken caution of one of the fathers of his church, that “a Genevensibus istis typographis præter fraudes, et fucos, et præstigias non est quod quicquam expectemus” (Montacu. Appar. 1, lib. v. sect. 47, p. 19), and so thought not fit to look into any thing that comes from them.
Especially may this be supposed to have had some influence upon him, considering the gentle censure added in the next words by that reverend father of his church concerning the endeavour of Vedelius in his notes on that edition:— “Neque audax ille et importunus Ignatii censor, quicquam attulit ad paginas suas implendas præter inscitiam, et incuriam, et impudentiam singularem (nec sævi magne sacerdos) dum ad suum Genevatismum antiquitatem detorquet invitissimam, non autem quod oportuit, Calvinismum amussitat ad antiquitatem.” And what, I pray, is the reason of his episcopal censure? — that he should deal with poor Vedelius in that language wherewith men of his order and authority were wont to deal with preaching ministers at their visitations? Why, this poor man, in that passage which you have in the Epistle to the Magnesians (in that edition, p. 56), when treating of the ancient fathers’ expectations of the coming of Christ, retains the common reading of εἰς κενότητα ἐλπίδος ἦλθον, referring the word to their expectation of seeing him come in the flesh, (which, upon the testimony of our Saviour himself, they desired to see, and saw it not,) not correcting it by a change of κενότητα into κοινότηατ ἐλπίδος so referring it to their faith in Christ and salvation by him, as, in his judgment, he ought to have done, — Ἰδοὺ ὀλίγον πῦρ, ἡλίκην ὕλῃν ἀνάπτει. A little thing would provoke the indignation of a prelate against any thing that came from Geneva.
I say, I would suppose that this might divert our doctor from casting his eye upon Vedelius, whose defensative would have informed him that these epistles had been opposed as false and counterfeit before ever Salmasius or Blondellus had taken them into consideration, but that I find him sometimes insisting on that Geneva edition.
31For whereas (Dissert. ii. cap. ii. sect. 11) he tells you that he intends to abide only upon the edition of Isaac Vossius, in Greek, published from the archives of the library of Lorenzo de Medici, and the Latin edition published by bishop Usher, out of our library here at Oxford; yet, cap. viii., being pressed with the testimony of the writer of the Epistle to the Magnesians, in that edition, calling episcopacy νεωτερικὴν τάξιν, plainly intimating a comparative novelty in that order to others in the churches, and fearing (as well he might) that his translation of νεωτερικὴ τάξις into “the ordination of a young man,” would scarce be received’ by the men of his own prejudice (for surely he never supposed that he should impose on any other by such gross figments), he prefers the Vedelian edition, where these words are not so used, before it, and informs us that “sic legcndum” (as it is in the Geneva edition) “suadet tota epistolæ series.” Now, this truly is marvellous to me (if the doctor consulteth authors any farther than merely to serve his present turn), how he could ever advise with that edition of Vedelius, and yet so confidently affirm that Salmasius and Blondellus were the first that rejected these epistles as feigned and counterfeited.
But yet a little farther: The first edition of these epistles in Latin was Augustæ Vindelicorum, anno 1529; in Greek, at Basil, 1566: before which time, I suppose, the doctor expects not that any opposition should be made to them, considering the heaps of filth and dung that, until about that time, were owned for the offspring of the ancient fathers.
Upon their first appearing in the world, what is the entertainment they receive? One who was dead before either the doctor or either of his antagonists was born, and whose renown among the people of God will live when they are all dead, gives them this welcome into the world: “Ignatium quod obtendunt, si velint quicquam habere momenti; probent apostolos legem tulisse de quadragesima, et similibus corruptelis, Nihil næniis istis quæ sub Ignatii nomine editæ sunt putidius. Quo minus tolerabilis est eorum impudentia qui talibus larvis ad fallendum se instruunt,” Calv. Inst., lib. i. cap. xiii. sect. 29.
Whatever be the judgment of our doctor concerning this man (as some there are of whom a learned bishop in this nation long ago complained, that they are still opening their mouths against Calvin, who helped them to mouths to speak with, Abbot. ad Thom.), he will in the judgment of some be so far accounted somebody as to take off from the confident assertion that Salmasius and Blondellus were “mortalium primi” that rejected these epistles.
The Centuriators of Magdeburg were esteemed to be somebodies in their days, and yet they make bold to call these epistles into question, and to tender sundry arguments to the impairing of their credit and authority. This then they, Cent. ii. cap. x., De Episcop. Antioch. ac primum de Ignatio:—
“Lectori pio et attento considerandum relinquimus quantum sit illis epistolis tribuendum. Non enim dubitamus quin in lectione earum cuilibet ista in mentem veniant; primum quod fere in omnibus epistolis, licet saris copiosis, occasio scribendi prætermittitur, nec vel divinare licet, quare potissimum ad hanc vel illam ecclesiam literas voluerit mittere. Deinde ipsius peregrinationis ratio non parvum injicit scrupulum considerantibus, quod multo rectiore et breviori itinere, Romam potuerit navigare, ut testatur vel ipsius Pauli exemplum. Expende quam longum sit iter, Antiochia ad littus Ægæi pelagi se recipere, ibique recta sursmn versus Septentrionem ascendere, et præcipuas civitates in littore sitas usque ad Troadem perlustrare, 32cum tamen Romanum iter sit destinatum versus occasum. Tertio res ejusmodi in istas literas inspersæ sunt ut ad eas propemodum obstupescat lector, etc. Hæc cum alias non somnolento lectori incidant, non existimaverimus,” etc.
Thus they, at the world’s first awaking as to the consideration of things of this kind.
To them add the learned Whitaker, Cont. prima, De Perfect. Script. quæst. sext. c. 12, where, after he hath disputed against the credit of these epistles, jointly and severally, with sundry arguments, at length he concludes, “Sed de his epistolis satis multa, et de hoc Ignatio quid judicandum sit, satis ex iis constare potest quæ diximus. Ista Papistæ non audent tueri,” etc. To whom sundry others might be added, convincing Salmasius and Blondellus not to have been “mortalium primi” that called them into question.
I have not insisted on what hath been spoken as though I were wholly of the mind of them who utterly condemn these epistles as false and counterfeit; though I know no possibility of standing before the arguments levied against them, notwithstanding the forementioned doctor’s attempt to that purpose, without acknowledging so much corruption in them, additions and detractions from what they were when first written, as will render them not so clearly serviceable to any end or purpose whereunto their testimony may be required, as other unquestionable writings of their antiquity are justly esteemed to be. That these epistles have fallen into the hands of such unworthy impostors as have filled the latter ages with labour and travail to discover their deceits, the doctor himself granteth, Dissert. ii. cap. ii. sect. 6. “Nulla,” saith he, “quidem nobis incumbit necessitas, ut in tanta exemplarium et editionum varietate et inconstantia, nihil uspiam Ignatio interpolatum aut adsutum affirmemus.”
And, indeed, the foisted passages in many places are so evident, yea shameful, that no man who is not resolved to say any thing, without care of proof or truth, can once appear in any defensative about them. Of this sort are the shreds and pieces out of that branded counterfeit piece of Clemens, or the Apostles’ Constitutions, which are almost in every epistle packed in in a bungling manner, oftentimes disturbing the sense and coherence of the place; yea, sometimes such things are thence transcribed as in them are considerable arguments of their corruption and falsehood: so is that period in the Epistle to the Magnesians, taken from Clemens. Constitut., lib. vi. cap, ii., Ἀβεδδαδὰν ὡσαύτως τῆς κεφαλῆς ἀφαιρεῖται δι’ ὁμοίαν αἰτίαν. This Abeddadan being mentioned next after Absalom’s dying by the loss of his head is therefore supposed to be Sheba, the son of Bichri; but whence that counterfeit Clemens had that name is not known. That the counterfeit Clemens by Abeddadan intended Sheba is evident from the words he assigns unto him in the place mentioned. Abeddadan said, Οὐκ ἔστι μοι μέρος ἐν Δαβὶδ, οὐδὲ κληρονομία ἐν υἱῷ Ἰεσσαί. And he joins him with Absalom in his rebellion. Such passages as these they are supposed to have received from that vain and foolish impostor; but if it be true, which some have observed, that there is not the least mention made of any of these fictitious Constitutions in the first three ages after Christ, and that the διδαχὴ ἀποστόλων mentioned by Eusebius and Athanasius, as also that διάταξις in Epiphanius, are quite other things than those eight books of Constitutions we now have, it may rather be supposed that that sottish deceiver raked up some of his filth from the corruption of these epistles than that any thing out of him is crept into them. Other instances might be given of stuffing these epistles with the 33very garbage of that beast. Into what hands also these epistles have fallen by the way, in their journeying down towards these ends of the world, is evident from those citations made out of them by them of old, which now appear not in them. Theodoret, Dial. 3, adv. Hære., gives us this sentence from Ignatius: Εὐχαριστίαν καὶ προσφορὰς οὐκ ἀποδέχονται διὰ τὸ μὴ ὁμολογεῖν τὴν εὐχαριστίαν σάρκα εἶναι τοῦ οωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν παθοῦσαν ἣν χρηστότητι ὁ Πατὴρ ἤγειρεν· which words you will scarcely find in that Epistle to the Church of Smyrna, from whence they were taken. Jerome also, Dial. 3, con. Pelag., hath this passage of him and from him: “Ignatius vir apostolicus et martyr scribit audacter, elegit Dominus apostolos qui super crones homines peccatores erant;” which words, as they are not now in these epistles, so, as one observes, if ever he wrote them, as is pretended, he did it audacter indeed. But of these things our doctor takes no notice.
The style of these epistles doth not a little weaken the credit of them, being turgent, swelling with uncouth words and phrases, affected manner and ways of expression, new compositions of words, multiplying titles of honour to men, — exceedingly remote and distant from the plainness and simplicity of the first writers among the Christians, as is evident by comparing these with the epistle of Clemens before mentioned, that of Polycarpus in Eusebius, [and of] the churches of Vienne and Lyons in that same author, and others. Instances for the confirmation of this observation are multiplied by Blondellus; my designed work will not allow me to insist on particulars. In many good words this charge is waived, by affirming that the author of these epistles was an Assyrian, and near to martyrdom, and that in the Scriptures there are sundry words of as hard a composition as those used by him, Ham. Dissert. ii. cap. iii.; and, as he says, from this kind of writing an argument of sufficient validity may be drawn to evince him to be the author of these epistles. Jerome was of another mind. Speaking of Didymus, “Imperitus,” saith he, “sermone est, et non scientia, apostolicum virum ex ipso sermone exprimens, tam sensuum nomine quam simplicitate verborum.” But seeing Ignatius was a Syrian, and near to martyrdom (though he writes his epistles from Troas and Smyrna, which, without doubt, were not in his way to Rome from Antioch, and yet everywhere he saith he is going to Rome: Ad Eph., Τὰ δεσμὰ ἀπὸ Συρίας μεχρὶ Ῥῶμης περιφέρω· which in the close he affirms he wrote from Smyrna, whither he was had to his martyrdom), what is it to any man what style he used in his writings, what swelling titles he gave to any, or words he made use of! Who shall call those writings (especially Ignatius being a Syrian) into question!
But perhaps some farther question may here arise (and which hath by sundry been already started) about the use of divers Latin words in these epistles, which, doubtless, cannot be handsomely laid on the same account, of their author being a Syrian, and nigh to martyrdom. Ἀκκέπτα, δεπόσιτα, δεσέρτωρ, ἐξεμπλάριον, are usually instanced in, words to whose use no Roman customs, observations, orders, nor rules of government, do administer the least occasion. Of these the doctor tells you he wonders only that in so many epistles there are no more of this kind. And why so? The epistles are not so large a volume, a very few hours will serve to read them over; and yet I am persuaded, that in all that compass of reading in the Greek fathers which our doctor owns, he cannot give so many instances of words barbarous to their language, no way occasioned by the means before mentioned, as have been given in these epistles. But he wonders there are no more, and some wonder that all are not of his mind! But he farther 34informs us that a diligent reader of the Scripture may observe many more Latin words in the New Testament than are used in these epistles; and, for a proof of his diligence and observation, reckons up out of the end of Pasor’s Lexicon sundry words of that kind made use of by the sacred writers. I fear, unto some men, this will scarce be an apology prevalent to the dismission of these epistles from under the censure of being at least foully corrupted. Of the whole collection of words of that sort made by Pasor, among which are those especially culled out by our doctor to confirm his observations, there is scarce one but either it is expressive of some Roman office, custom, money, order, or the like; words of which nature pass as proper names (as one of those mentioned by the doctor is, and no otherwise used in the New Testament) from one country and language to another, or are indeed of a pure Greek original, or at least were in common use in that age; neither of which can be spoken of the words above mentioned, used in the epistles, which were never used by any before or after them, nor is there any occasion imaginable why they should. “Parvas habent spes epistolæ, si tales habent.” I would, indeed, gladly see a fair, candid, and ingenuous defensative of the style and manner of writing used in these epistles, departing so eminently from any thing that was customary in the writings of the men of those days, or is regular for men of any generation, in repetitions, affected compositions, barbarisms, rhyming expressions, and the like; for truly, notwithstanding any thing that hitherto I have been able to obtain for help in this kind, I am enforced to incline to Vedelius’ answers to all the particular instances given of this nature, “This and that place are corrupted, — this is from Clemens’ Constitutions, this from this or that tradition;” which, also, would much better free these epistles from the word σιγῆς, used in the sense whereunto it was applied by the Valentinians long after the death of Ignatius, than any other apology I have as yet seen for the securing of its abode in them.
It is not a little burdensome to the thoughts of sober and learned men to consider how frequently, causelessly, absurdly, in the midst of discourses quite of another nature and tendency, the author of these epistles, or somebody for him, breaks in upon the commendation of church officers, bishops and presbyters, exalting them with titles of honour to the greatest potentates on earth, and comparing them to God the Father and Son; whereas none of the sacred writers that went before him, nor any of those good and holy men who, as is supposed, followed after him, do hold the least communion or society with him. Ἀναγκαῖον οὖν ἐστιν, ὅσαπερ ποιεῖτε, ἄνευ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲν πράττειν ὑμᾶς, Epist. ad Tral. [cap. ii.], whereunto is immediately subjoined that doctrine concerning deacons which will scarcely be thought to be exegetical of Acts vi. 1–6, Δεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὺς διακόνους ὄντας μυστηρίων Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ κατὰ πάντα τρόπον ἀρέσκειν· οὐ γὰρ βρωτῶν καὶ ποτῶν εἰσι διάκονοι, ἀλλά, etc. And Τί γάρ ἐστιν ἐπίσκοπος; ἀλλ’ ἢ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας ἐπέκεινα πάντων κρατῶν, [cap. vii.] What the writer of this passage intended to make of a bishop well I know not; but thus he speaks of him, Epist. ad Magnes. [cap. iii.] Πρέπον οὖν ἐστι καὶ ὑμᾶς ὑπακούειν τῷ ἐπισκόπῷ ὑμῶν· καὶ κατὰ μηδὲν αὐτῷ ἀντιλέγειν. Φοβερὸν γάρ ἐστι (as the apostle speaks concerning God, Heb. x. 27) τῷ τοιούτῳ ἀντιλέγειν. Thus, indeed, some would have it, who, to help the matter, have farther framed such an episcopacy as was never thought on by any in the days of Ignatius, as shall afterward be made evident. And in the same epistle this is somewhat uncouth and strange, [cap. vi., vii.]: Ἑνώθντε τῷ ἐπισκότῳ, ὑποτασσόμενοι τῷ Θεῷ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ. Ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ Κύριος ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς 35οὐδὲν ποιεῖ, οὐ δύναμαι γὰρ, φησὶ, ποιεῖν ἀτ’ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐδέν· οὕτω καὶ ὑμείς ἅνευ τοὺ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲ πρεσβύτερος, μηδὲ διάκονος, μηδὲ λαϊκός· μηδὲ τι φαινέσθω ὑμῖν εὔλογον παρὰ τὴν ἐκείνου γνώμην. Whether the Lord Christ hath bound any such burden upon the shoulders of the saints I much question. Nor can I tell what to make of the comparison between God the Father and the bishop, Christ and the rest of the church, the whole sentence, in word and manner, being most remote from the least countenance from the sacred writings. Epist. ad Philadel. [cap. v.]: Οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ διάκονοι καὶ ὁ λοιπος κλῆρος, ἅμα παντὶ τῷ λαῷ καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις, καὶ τοῖς ἄρχουσι καὶ τῷ Καίσαρι (well aimed, however), τῷ ἐπισκότῳ πειθαρχείτωσαν. The Epistle to the Church of Smyrna is full of such stuff, inserted without any occasion, order, coherence, or any colour to induce us to believe that it is part of the epistle as first written. One passage may not omit [cap. ix.]: Τίμα, φησὶν, υἱὲ τὸν Θεὸν, καὶ βασιλέα· ἐγὼ δέ φημι (in the language of our Saviour repudiating the Pharisees’ corrupted glosses on the law), τίμα μὲν τὸν Θεὸν ὡς αἴτιον τῶν ὅλων καὶ Κύριον, ἐπίσκοπον δὲ ὡς ἀρχιερέα, Θεοῦ εἰκόνα φοροῦντα, κατὰ μὲν τὸ ἄρχειν, Θεοῦ, κατὰ δὲ τὸ ἱερατεύειν Χριστοῦ· καὶ μετὰ τοῦτον τιμᾷν χρὴ καὶ βασιλέα. So Peter’s mistake is corrected. His reasons follow: Οὔτε γὰρ Θεοῦ τις χρείττων, ἢ παραπλήσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσιν· οὔτε δὲ ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπισκόπου τι μεῖζον ἱερωμένου Θεῷ ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου παντὸς σωτηρίας, (as was Jesus Christ). And it is added: Εἰ γὰρ ὁ βασιλεῦσιν ἐπεγειρόμενος, κολάσεως ἄξιος δικαίως γενήσεται, ὥς γε πυραλύων τὴν κοινὴν εὐνομίαν, πόοῳ δοκεῖτε χείρονος ἀξιωθήσεται πιμωρίας ὁ ἄνευ ἐπισκόπου τι ποιεῖν προαιρούμενος; etc., ἱερωσύνη γὰρ ἐστι τὸ πάντων ἀγαθῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀναβεβηκός. How well this suits the doctrine of Peter and Paul the reader will easily discern. Cæsar or the king is, upon all accounts, thrust behind the bishop, who is said to be consecrated to God for the salvation of the world; him he is exhorted to obey; — and in express opposition to the Holy Ghost, the bishop’s name is thrust in between God and the king, as in a way of pre-eminence above the latter; and to do any thing without the bishop is made a far greater crime than to rise up against the king. As this seems scarce to be the language of one going upon an accusation to appear before the emperor, so I am certain it is most remote from the likeness of any thing that in this affair we are instructed in from the Scripture. Plainly this language is the same with that of the false impostor, Pseudo-Clemens, in his pretended Apostolical Constitutions. At this rate, or somewhat beyond it, have you him ranting: Lib. ii. cap. ii., Ἐπίσκοπον Θεοῦ τύπον ἔχειν ἐν ἀνθρώποις, τῶν πάντων ἄρχειν ἀνθρώπων, ἱερέων, βασιλέων, ἀρχόντων, πατέρων, υἱῶν, διδασκάλων καὶ πάντων ὁμοῦ τῶν ὑπηκόων· — “All popes, all sorts of persons whatever, priests, kings, and princes, fathers and children, all under the feet of this exemplar of God and ruler of men!” a passage which, doubtless, eminently interprets and illustrates that place of Peter, 1 Epist. v. 1–3, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” But yet, as if the man were stark mad with worldly pride and pomp, he afterward, in the name of the holy apostles of Jesus Christ, commands all the laity (forsooth) to honour, love, and fear the bishop ὡς κύριον, ὡς δεσπότην, ὡς ἀρχιερέα Θεοῦ, lib. ii. cap. xx. And that you may see whither the man drives, and what he aims at, after he hath set out his bishop like an emperor or an eastern king, in 36all pomp and glory, he adds, Τοὺς ἐπισκόπους ἄρχοντας ὑμῶν καὶ βασιλέας ἡγεῖσθαι νομίζετε, καὶ δασμοὺς ὡς βασιλεῦσι προσφέρετε. The paying of tribute to them as kings is the issue of these descriptions, that they may have wherewithal to maintain their pomp and greatness, according to the institution of our Lord Jesus Christ and his blessed apostles! But I shall not rake farther into this dunghill, nor shall I add any more instances of this kind out of Ignatius, but close in one insisted on by our doctor for the proof of his episcopacy. Dissert. ii. cap. xxv. 7, saith he, Quartò, Τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ, πρσοέχετε, ἵνα καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῖν. “Episcopo attendite, ut et vobis Deus attendat. Ego animam meam libenter eorum loco substitui cuperem quod Anglice optic dicimus” (my soul for theirs), “qui episcopo, presbyteris, et diaconis obsequuntur.” I hope I may without great difficulty obtain the doctor’s pardon, that I dare not be so bold with my soul as to jeopard it in that manner, especially being not mine own to dispose of.
Upon these and many more the like accounts do the epistles seem to me to be like the children that the Jews had by their strange wives, Neh. xiii. 23, 24, who spake part the language of Ashdod, and part the language of the Jews. As there are in them many footsteps of a gracious spirit, every way worthy of and becoming the great and holy personage whose they are esteemed, so there is evidently a mixture of the working of that worldly and carnal spirit which in his days was not so let loose as in after times. For what is there in the Scripture, what is in the genuine epistle of Clemens, that gives countenance to those descriptions of episcopacy, bishops, and the subjection to them, that are in these epistles (as now we have them) so insisted on? what titles are given to bishops? what sovereignty, power, rule, dominion, is ascribed to them? Is there any thing of the like nature in the writings of the apostles? in Clemens? the epistle of Polycarp, etc., or in any unquestionable legitimate offspring of any of the first worthies of Christianity? Whence have they their three orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, upon the distinct observation of which so much weight is laid? Is there any one word, iota, tittle, or syllable, in the whole book of God, giving countenance to any such distinctions? Eph. iv. 11, we have “pastors and teachers.” Rom. xii. 7, 8, “Him that teacheth, him that exhorteth, him that ruleth, and him that showeth mercy.” Phil. i. 1, we have “bishops and deacons;” and their institution, with the order of it, we have at large expressed, 1 Tim. iii. 1–13, — “Bishops and deacons,” without the interposition of any other order whatever. Deacons we have appointed, Acts vi. 1–6; and elders, Acts xiv. 23. Those who are bishops we find called presbyters, Titus i. 5, 7; and those who are presbyters we find termed bishops, Acts xx. 28: so that deacons we know, and bishops who are presbyters, or presbyters who are bishops, we know; but bishops, presbyters, and deacons, as three distinct orders in the church, from the Scripture we know not. Neither did Clemens, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, know of any more than we do, which a few instances will manifest. Saith he, speaking of the apostles, Κατὰ χώρας οὖν καὶ πόλεις κηρύσσοντες, καθίστανον τὰς ἀπαρχὰς αὐτῶν, δοκιμάσαντες τῷ Πνεῦματι, εἰς ἐπισκόπους καὶ διακοόνους τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύεν· καὶ τοῦτο οὐ καινῶς, ἐκ γὰρ δὴ πολλῶν χρόνων ἐγέγραπτο περὶ ἐπισκόπων καὶ διακόνων, etc. Bishops and deacons (as in the church at Philippi) this man knows, but the third order he is utterly unacquainted withal. And that the difference of this man’s expressions concerning church rulers from those in the epistle under consideration may the better appear, and that his asserting of bishops and 37presbyters to be one and the same may the more clearly be evidenced, shall transcribe one other passage from him, whose length I hope will be excused from the usefulness of it to the purpose in hand: Pages 57, 58, Καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι ἡμῶν εγνωσαν διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅτι ἔρις ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ ὀνόματος τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς· διὰ ταύτην οὖν τὴν αἰτίαν, πρόγνωσιν εἰληφότες τελείαν, κατέστησαν τοὺς προειρημένους, καὶ μεταξὺ ἐπινομὴν δεδώκασιν, ὅπως, ἐὰν κοιμηθῶσιν, διαδέξωνται ἕτεροι δεδοκιμασμένοι ἄνδρες, τὴν λειτουργίαν αὐτῶν. Τοὺς οὖν κατασταθέντας ὑπ’ ἐκείνων, ἢ μεταξὺ ὑφ’ ἑτέρων ἐλλογίμων ἀνδρῶν, ουνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης, (for so, it seems, was the manner of the church in his days, that their officers were appointed by the consent of the whole church,) καὶ λειτουργήσαντας ἀμέμπτως τῷ ποιμνίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ παπεινοφροσύης, ἡούχως καὶ ἀβαναύσως, μεμαρτυρημένους τε πολλοῖς χρόνοις ὑπὸ πάντων, τούτους οὐ δικαίως νομίζομεν ἀποβαλέσθαι τῆς λειτουργίας· ἁμαρτία γὰρ οὐ μικρὰ ἡμῖν ἔσται, ἐὰν τοὺς ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἀποβάλωμεν. Μακάριοι οἱ προοδοιπορήσαντες πρεσβύτεροι (or the bishops of whom he was speaking), οἵτινες ἔγκαρπον καὶ τελείαν ἔσχον τὴν ἀνάλυσιν, etc. And sundry other discoveries are there in that epistle of the like nature. It is not my design or purpose to insist upon the parity of bishops and presbyters, or rather the identity of office, denoted by sundry appellations, from these and the like places; this work is done to the full by Blondellus, so that our labour in this kind, were that the purpose in hand, is prevented. He that thinks the arguments of that learned man to this purpose are indeed answered thoroughly and removed by Dr Hammond, in his fourth dissertation, where he proposes them to consideration, may one day think it needful to be able to distinguish between words and things. That Clemens owns in a church but two sorts of officers, the first whereof he calls sometimes bishops, sometimes presbyters, the other deacons, the doctor himself doth not deny.
That in the judgment of Clemens no more were instituted in the church is no less evident. And this carries the conviction of its truth so clearly with it that Lombard himself confesseth, “Hos solos ministrorum duos ordines ecclesiam primitivam habuisse, et de his solis præceptum apostoli nos habere,” lib. iv. Sen. D. 24. It seems, moreover, that those bishops and deacons in those days, as was observed, were appointed to the office by and with the consent of the people, or whole body of the church; no less do these words import, Συνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης. Our doctor, indeed, renders these words, “Applaudente aut congratulante ecclesia tota;” and adds (satis pro imperio) “nihil hic de acceptatione totius ecclesiæ, sine qua episcopos et diaconos ab apostolis et apostolicis viris constitutos non esse, ex hoc loco concludit Blondellus, quasi, qui ex Dei jussu et approbatione constituebantur, populi etiam acceptatione indigere putandi essent,” Dissert. iv. cap. vii. 8, 10. And who dares take that confidence upon him as to affirm any more what so great a doctor hath denied! Though the scope of the place, the nature of the thing, and first most common sense of the word here used, be willingly to consent (as it is also used in the Scripture, for the most part, Acts viii. 1, 1 Cor. vii. 12) to a thing to be done, or to the doing of it, yet here it must be taken to applaud or congratulate, or what else our doctor pleases, because he will have it so. Ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες, also, must be “viri apostolici,” men with apostolical or extraordinary power, when they are only the choice men of the church where such a constitution of officers is had that are intended, because it is to our doctor’s purpose to have the words so rendered. “Ex jussu Dei et approbatione” is added, as though any particular command or approbation of God were intimated for the constitution of the bishops 38and deacons mentioned, beyond the institution of the Lord Jesus Christ that elders should be ordained in every church; because this is, it seems, to be exclusive wholly of the consent of the people, as any way needful or required to their constitution; which yet, as it is practically false, no such thing being mentioned by Clemens, who recounteth the ways and means whereby officers were continued in the church even after the decease of the apostles and those first ordained by them to that holy employment, so also is it argumentatively weak and unconcluding. God appointed, designed Saul to be king, approving of his so being, and yet he would have the people come together to choose him: so also was it in the case of David. Though the apostles, in the name and by the authority of God, appointed the deacons of the church at Jerusalem, yet they would have the whole church look out among themselves the men to be appointed. And that the ordaining of the elders was with the people’s election, Acts xiv. 23, it will ere long be manifested that neither our doctor nor any of his associates have as yet disproved. This poor thing “the people,” being the peculiar people of Christ, the heritage of God, and holy temple unto him, etc., will one day be found to be another manner of thing than many of our great doctors have supposed. But he informs us, cap. iv. sect. 3, from that testimony which we cited before, that the apostles in the appointment of bishops and deacons (for so the words expressly are) are said τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαι, — that is, saith he, “Revelationibus edoctos esse, quibus demum hæc dignitas communicanda esset;” that is, that they appointed those whom God revealed to them in an extraordinary manner to be so ordained, and this is the meaning of τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαντες. And why so? The Holy Ghost orders concerning the appointment of deacons δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, 1 Tim. iii. 10. That those who are to be taken into office and power in the church had need first to be tried and approved is granted, and this work the apostles give to the multitude of the church, Acts vi. 3; — where yet, after the people’s election, and the apostles’ approbation, and the trial by both, one that was chosen is supposed to have proved none of the best; and yet of him and them are the apostles said by Clemens that they did τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαι. But how shall it be made to appear that “Spiritu probantes,” trying or proving by the Spirit, or spiritually proving them, to try whether they were able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit, proving them by that Spirit; which was promised unto them “to lead them into all truth,” must needs signify they were taught whom they should appoint by immediate revelation? To prove by the Spirit, or spiritually, the persons that are to be made ministers or bishops, is to have their names revealed to us! Stephen is said to speak ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Acts vi. 10; and Paul purposed ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Acts xix. 21; and we are said to serve God ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Gal. v. 5; and to make supplication ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Eph. vi. 18; with many more expressions of the like nature. Does all this relate to immediate revelation, and are all things done thereby which we are said to do in the Spirit? Before we were instructed in this mystery, and were informed that δοκιμάσαντες τῷ Πνεύματι did signify to be “taught by revelation,” we had thought that the expression of doing any thing τῷ Πνεύματι had manifested the assistance, guidance, and direction, which for the doing it we receive by the holy and blessed Spirit of God, promised unto us, and bestowed on, in, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, but he adds that it is also spoken of the apostles, πρόγνωσιν præcognitionem, that is, revelationem εἰληφότες τελείαν, they appointed them bishops and deacons; by the help and presence of the Spirit with them the apostles examined and 39tried those who were to be appointed bishops, so obtaining and receiving a perfect foreknowledge, or knowledge of them before their admission into office. This also expresses revelation (πρόγνωσιν εἰληφότες), upon trial it was revealed unto them! and so must any thing else be allowed to be that our doctor will have to be so, now he is asserting to that purpose. But had the ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες who appointed bishops and deacons after the apostles’ time, had they also this special revelation? or may they not be said δοκιμάσαι τῷ Πνεύματι; If not, how will you look upon them under the notion of ἐλλογίμων ἀνδρῶν who neglected so great a duty? If they did, let us know when this way of constituting church officers by immediate revelation ceased, and what was afterward taken up in the room thereof, and who they were that first proceeded on another account, and on what authority they did so. There is a generation of men in the world which will thank the doctor for this insinuation, and will tie knots upon it that will trouble him to loose.
Before we return, let us look but a little farther, and we shall have a little more light given us into what was the condition and power of the people in the church in the days of Clemens. Speaking of them who occasioned the division and schism in the church of Corinth, or them about whose exaltation into office, or dejection from it, that sad difference fell out, he gives them this advice: Τίς οὖν ἐν ὑμῖν γενναῖος; τίς εὔσπλαγχνος; τὶς πεπληρωμένος ἀγάπης; εἰπάτω· Εἰ δι’ ἐμὲ στάσις, καὶ ἔρις, καὶ σχίσματα, ἐκχωρῶ ἄπειμι οὗ ἐὰν βούλησθε, καὶ ποιῶ τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους· μόνον τὸ ποίμνιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω, μετὰ τῶν καθεσταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. It seems the πλῆθος, the multitude, or the people, were not such poor, inconsiderable things as they are reported to be, when he advises them to stop and stay the sedition, by yielding obedience to the things by them appointed and commanded. If it were in itself evil, disorderly, and not according to the mind of Christ, that the people should order and appoint things in the church, it had been simply evil for Clemens to have advised any to yield obedience unto things by them so appointed. Where is now Ignatius’ ὑποτάσσεσθε τῷ ἐπισκότῳ and χωρὶς ἐπισκοποῦ, etc.? Even those who are contending about rule and government in the church are advised to stand to the determination of the people, and to cry, Τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους ποιοῦμεν. This is also insisted on by Blondellus, who thence argues “potestatem plebis circa sacra.” Dissert. v. cap. viii. sect. 4, “Ad verba hæc,” saith our doctor, “prodigii instar est quod notandum duxit Dav. Blondellus potestatem plebis circa sacra (de qua tandem integram dissertationem elucubravit) artificiis quibuscunque asserturus. Hic (inquit) nos monet Clemens fideles etiam de episeopatu aut presbyterio contendentes, non ab episcopi singulari καὶ ὑπερέχοντος nutu, sed a multitudinis præceptis pependisse.” But let not our doctor be angry, nor cry out so fast of prodigies; a little time will manifest that many things may not be prodigious, which yet are contrary to sundry of his conceptions and apprehensions. I cannot but acknowledge him to be provoked; but withal must say, that I have found very commonly that reasons ushered in by such loud clamours have, on examination, proved to have stood in need of some such noises as might fright men from the consideration of them. What is in the next sections set up to shield the children of episcopacy from being affrighted with this prodigy may perhaps be of more efficacy thereunto than the exclamations before mentioned; he therefore proceeds, sect. 5. “Certe,” saith he, “si serio rem ageret Dav. Blondellus de presbyteris suis (non de episcopis nostris) actum plane et triumphatum erit, nec enim ab universo aliquo presbyterorum collegio, 40quod ille tam afflictim ardet, sed a multitudinis solius arbitrio, tum contendentes de episcopo, tum fideles omnes Corinthios pependisse æque concludendum erit.” If any man in the world hath manifested more desperate affection towards presbytery than this doctor hath done towards episcopacy, for my part solus habeto. But though neither Clemens nor Blondellus speaks any one word about the ordering of things “multitudinis solius arbitrio,” yet here is that said by them both which is sufficiently destructive, not only to the episcopacy the doctor contends for, as a thing wholly inconsistent with the power and liberty here granted the people, but of any such presbytery also as shall undertake the ordering and disposing of things in the church of God without the consent and concurrent suffrage of the people. Such a presbytery, it seems, Blondellus does not defend. But yet neither the doctor’s outcry as at a prodigy, nor this retortion upon presbytery is any answer to the testimony of Clemens, nor, indeed, is there the least possible reflection upon an orderly gospel presbytery in any church and over it by what Clemens here professeth to be the power of the people; all the appearance of any such thing is from the term “solius,” foisted into the discourse of Blondellus by the doctor, in his taking of it up to retort at. Clemens in the very next words secures us from any thought that all things depended “a multitudinis solius arbitrio.” His very next words are, Μόνον τὸ ποίμνοιν τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω, μετὰ τῶν καθεσταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. Our doctors and masters (having stuffed their imaginations with the shape and lineament of that hierarchical fabric which the craft, policy, subtlety, avarice, pride, and ambition, of many ages successively had formed and framed according to the pattern they saw in the mount of the world and the governments therein), upon the first hearing of a church, a flock of Christ, walking in orderly subjection to their own elders, concurring with them and consenting to them in their rule and government, instantly, as men amazed, cry out, “A prodigy!” It is not imaginable into what ridiculous, contemptible miscarriages, pride, prejudice, and self-fulness, do oftentimes betray men, otherwise of good abilities in their ways and very commendable industry.
But, sect. 6, the doctor comes closer, and gives his reason why this testimony of Clemens is not of any efficacy to the purpose in hand. Saith he, “At quis (sodes) a fidelibus de episcopatu (ut vis) contra ipsos ab apostolis constitutos episcopos contendentibus; quis a populo contra principem suum tumultus ciente; quis verbis ad retundendum seditionem ad plebem factis, argumenta ad authoritatem populo adjudicandum, principi derogandum duci posse existimavit?” Though many words follow in the next section, yet this is all of answer that is given to this signal testimony of Clemens. I know the doctor, for the most part, meets not only with favourable readers, but also partial admirers, or else, certainly, his exclamation would scarce pass for an invincible argument, nor such rhetorical diversions as this be esteemed solid answers. There is not by Blondellus any argument taken from the faithful’s tumultuating against the bishops (that “If appointed by the apostles,” which is thrust in, taken for the persons of those bishops, is against the express testimony of Clemens in this epistle), nor from the people’s seditiously rebelling against their prince, nor from any word spoken to the people to repress their sedition; neither was any thing of this nature urged in the least by Blondellus; nor is there any colour given to such a collection from any thing in the words cited from the epistle or the context of them. It is the advice of the church of Rome to the persons (whether already in office or aspiring thereunto) about whom the contention and division was in the church of Corinth that 41is insisted on. It is not the words or plea of them who were in disorder. There is not any reprehension given to the body of the church, the multitude, or people, who are supposed to tumultuate, to quiet them, but a direction given, as was said, by the church of Rome to the persons that occasioned the difference, how to behave themselves, so that a timely issue might be put to the division of the church. To this end are they advised to observe the προστάγματα, the orders, precepts, decrees, or appointments, of “the multitude,” as, from Acts xv. 12, the body of the church is called. It is not that they should yield to their tumultuating, but yield obedience to their orderly precepts. Τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους are by him approved; and had it not been lawful for them with the presbyters προστάττειν in the affairs of the church, Clemens, writing this epistle the whole church, could not possibly have led them into a greater snare.
It is a sad thing to consider the pitiful entanglements and snares that some men run into, who will undertake to make good what they have once engaged for, let what will come against them.
To return, then: it is evident that in the time of Clemens there were but two sorts of officers in the church, bishops and deacons; whereas the epistles of Ignatius do precisely, in every place where any mention is made of them (as there is upon occasions and upon none at all), insist on three orders, distinct in name and things. With Clemens it is not so. Those whom he calls bishops in one place, the very same persons he immediately calls presbyters, after the example of Paul, Acts xx. 28, Titus i. 5, 7, and plainly asserts episcopacy to be the office of presbyters. Ἁμαρτία, saith he, οὐ μικρὰ ἡμῖν ἔσται ἐὰν τοὺς ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἀποζάλωμεν. Μακάριοι ὁι προοδοιπορήσαντες πρεσβύτεροι, — namely, because they were in no danger to be cast from their episcopacy. And whereas the fault which he reproves in the church of Corinth is their division, and want of due subjection to their spiritual governors, according to the order which Christ hath appointed in all the churches of the saints, he affirms plainly that those governors were the presbyters of the church: Αἰσχρὰ, saith he, καὶ λίαν αἰσχρὰ, καὶ ἀνάξια τῆς ἐν Κριστῷ ἀγωγῆς ἀκούεται, τῆν βεβαιοτάτην, καὶ ἀρχαίαν Κορινθίων ἐκκλησίαν, δι’ ἓν ἢ δύο πρόσωπα, στασιάζειν πρὸς τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους. And in all places throughout the whole epistle, writing ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, that particular church of Corinth, the saints dwelling there, walking in the order and fellowship of the gospel, where he treats of those things, he still intimates a plurality of presbyters in the church (as there may, nay, there ought to be, in every single congregation, Acts xx. 28), without the least intimation of any singular person promoted, upon any account whatever, above his fellows. So in the advice given to the persons who occasioned the division before mentioned, Μόνον τὸ ποίμνιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω μετὰ τῶν καθισταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. Had there been a singular bishop at Corinth, much more a metropolitan, such as our doctor speaks him to have been, it had been impossible that he should be thus passed by in silence.
But the doctor gives you a double answer to this observation, with the several parts whereof I doubt not but that he makes himself merry, if he can suppose that any men are so wedded to his dictates as to give them entertainment; for indeed they are plainly jocular. But learned men must have leave sometimes to exercise their fancies, and to sport themselves with their own imaginations.
First, then, for the mention that is made of many presbyters in the church of Corinth, to whom Clemens, in the name of the church of Rome, exhorts to give all due respect, honour, obedience: He tells you that by “The 42church of Corinth,” all the churches of Achaia are meant and intended. The epistle is directed only Τῇ ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, without the least intimation of any other church or churches. The difference it is written about was occasioned by one or two persons in that church only; it is that church alone that is exhorted to order and due subjection to their elders. From the beginning to the end of the epistle, there is not one word, apex, or tittle, to intimate the designation of it to any church or churches beyond the single church of Corinth, or that they had any concernment in the difference spoken to. The fabric of after ages ties so close to the doctor’s imagination that there is no entrance for the true frame of the primitive church of Christ; and therefore every thing must be wrested and apportioned to the conceit of such an episcopacy as he hath entertained. Whereas he ought to crop off both head and heels of his own imagination, and the episcopacy of the latter days, which he too dearly affects, he chooseth rather to stretch and torture the ancient government of the church, that it may seem to answer the frame presently contended for. But let us a little attend to the doctor’s learned argument, whereby he endeavours to make good his assertion:—
1. He tells you that Corinth was the chief city of Achaia, the metropolis (in a political sense and acceptation of the word) of Greece, where the proconsul had his residence, Dissert. v. cap. ii. sect. 3. Let us grant this to our learned doctor, lest we should find nothing to gratify him withal; what then will follow? Hence, saith he, it will follow, sect. 4, that this epistle which was sent, “Ecclesiæ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, non ad unius civitatis ecclesiam, sed ad omnes totius Achaiæ Christianos, per singulas civitates et regiones, sub episcopis aut præfectis suis ubique collocatas missa existimetur.” But pray, doctor, why so? We poor creatures, who are not so sharp-sighted as to discern a metropolitan archbishop at Corinth, on whom all the bishops in Greece were dependent, nor can find any instituted church in the Scripture or in Clemens of one denomination beyond a single congregation, cannot but think that all the strength of this consectary, from the insinuation of such a state of things in the church God, is nothing but a pure begging of the thing in question, which will never be granted upon such terms.
Yea, but he adds, sect. 5, that “Paul wrote his epistle not only to the church of Corinth, but also to all the churches of Achaia; therefore Clemens did so also.” At first view this argument seems not very conclusive, yea, appears, indeed, very ridiculous. The enforcement of it which ensues may perhaps give new life and vigour to it. How, then, is it proved that Paul wrote not only to the church of Corinth, but to all them in Achaia also? Why, saith he, in the second epistle, chap. i. verse 1, it is so expressed. He writes, Τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Αχαΐᾳ. Very good. It is indisputably evident that Paul wrote his second epistle to the church at Corinth and all the rest of Achaia, for he expressly affirms himself so to do; and for the first epistle, it is directed not only to the church of Corinth, chap. i., verse 2, but also πᾶσι τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ — that is, saith our doctor, in the whole region of Achaia! So, indeed, says the doctor’s great friend, Grotius, to whom he is beholden for more than one rare notion. I say it not in any way of any reproach to the doctor, only I cannot but think his careful warding of himself against the thoughts of men that he should be beholden to Grotius doth exceedingly unbecome the doctor’s gravity and self-denial. This is complained of by some who have tried it in reference to his late comment on the Revelation. And 43in this Dissertation he is put by his own thoughts (I will not say guilty) to an apology, cap. i. sect. 24: “Qua in re suffragium suum tulisse Hugonem Grotium τὸν πάνυ ex annotationibus posthumis, nuper editis, et postquam hæc omnia typographo transcripta essent, cursim perlectis edoctum gratulor.” Let not the reader think that Dr Hammond had transmitted his papers full of rare conjectures to the printer before Grotius’ Annotations upon the Revelation were published, but only before he had read them. The doctor little thinks what a fly this is in his pot of ointment, nor how indecent with all impartial men such apologies, subservient to a frame of spirit in bondage to a man’s own esteem and reputation, appear to be. But let this pass, and let the saints that call upon the name of Jesus Christ in every place be the saints in every part of Achaia, — though the epistle itself (written, indeed, upon occasion taken from the church of Corinth, yet) was given by inspiration from God for the use not only of all the saints in the whole world at that time wherein it was written, but of all those who were to believe in any part or place of the world to the end thereof, — although the assertion of it be not built on any tolerable conjecture, but may be rejected with the same facility wherewith it is tendered, what now will hence ensue? Why, hence it follows that Clemens also wrote his epistle to all the churches in Achaia. Very good! Paul writing an epistle entitled chiefly to the Corinthians, expressly and ῥητῶς directs it to the saints or churches of Achaia, yea, to all that call upon the name of God in every place, so that his epistle, being of catholic concernment, is not to be confined to the church of Corinth only, although most of the particular things mentioned in that epistle related only to that particular church; therefore, Clemens directing his epistle to the church of Corinth only, not once mentioning nor insinuating an intention of extending it to any other, handling in it only the peculiar concernment of that church, and a difference about one or two persons therein, must be supposed to have written to all the churches of Achaia! And if such arguments as these will not prove episcopacy to be of apostolical constitution, what will prevail with men so to esteem it! —
― “Si Pergama dextrâ
Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.”
Æn. ii. 291, 292.
And this is the cause of naming many elders or presbyters in one church! For my part, I suppose the doctor might more probably have adhered to a former conjecture of his, Dissert. iv. cap. x. sect. 9. Concerning two sundry different churches, where were distinct officers, in the same city, “Primo,” saith he, “respondeo non usque quaque verum est, quod pro concesso sumitur, quamvis enim in una ecclesia aut cætu plures simul episcopi nunquam fuerint” (pray except them mentioned Acts xx. 28, and those Acts xiv. 23), “nihil tamen obstare quin in eadem civitate duo aliquando cætus disterminati fuerint.” He might, I say, with more show of probability have abode by this observation than to have rambled over all Greece to relieve himself against his adversaries. But yet neither would this suffice. What use may or will be made of this concession shall elsewhere be manifested.
But the doctor hath yet another answer to this multiplication of elders, and the mention of them with deacons, with the evident identity that is between them and bishops through the whole epistle, the same persons being unquestionably intended, in respect of the same office, by both these appellations. Now, this second answer is founded upon the supposition of the former (a goodly foundation!) — namely, that the epistle under consideration was written and sent not to the church of Corinth only, but to all the churches of Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolitan.
442. Now, this second answer is, that the elders or presbyters here mentioned were properly those whom he calls bishops, diocesans, — men of a third rank and order, above deacons and presbyters in the church administrations and government; and for those who are properly called presbyters, there were then none in the church. To give colour to this miserable evasion, Dissert. iv. cap. x. sect. 11, he discourseth about the government and ordering of church affairs by bishops and deacons in some churches that were small, not yet formed or completed, nor come to perfection at the first planting of them. How well this is accommodated to the church of Corinth, which Clemens calls βεβαιοτατην καὶ ἀρχαίαν, and which himself would have to be a metropolitical church, being confessedly great, numerous, furnished with great and large gifts and abilities, may be seen with half an eye. How ill, also, this shift is accommodated to help in the case for whose service it was first invented, is no less evident. It was to save the sword of Phil. i. 1 from the throat of the episcopacy he contendeth for. That epistle is directed to the saints or church at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. Two things do here trouble our doctor:— (1.) The mention of more bishops than one at Philippi; (2.) The knitting together of bishops and deacons, as the only two orders in the church, bringing down episcopacy one degree at least from that height whereto he would exalt it. For the first of these, he tells you that Philippi was the metropolitan church of the province of Macedonia; that the rest of the churches, which had every one their several bishops (diocesan we must suppose), were all comprised in the mentioning of Philippi: so that though the epistle be precisely directed τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις, yet the bishops that were with them must be supposed to be bishops of the whole province of Macedonia, because the church of Philippi was the metropolitan. The whole country must have been supposed to be converted, (and who that knows any thing of antiquity will dispute that!) and so divided with diocesans, as England of late was, the archbishop’s see being at Philippi. But how came it then to pass that there is mention made of bishops and deacons only, without any one word of a third order, or rank of men distinct from them, called presbyters or elders? To this he answers, secondly, that when the church was first planed, before any great number was converts, or any fit to be made presbyters, there were only those two orders instituted, bishops and deacons: so that this church at Philippi seems to have been a metropolitical infant! The truth is, if ever the doctor be put upon reconciling the contradictions of his answers one to another, not only in this, but almost in every particular he deals withal (an entanglement which he is thrown into by his bold and groundless conjectures), he will find it to be as endless as fruitless; but it is not my present business to interpose in his quarrels, either with himself or presbytery. As to the matter under consideration, I desire only to be resolved in these few queries:—
1. If there were in the times of Clemens no presbyters in the churches, not [even] in so great and flourishing a church as that of Corinth, and if all the places in the Scripture where there is mention of elders do precisely intend bishops, in a distinction from them who are only deacons and not bishops also, as he asserts, when, by whom, and by what authority, were elders who are only so, inferior to bishops peculiarly so termed, instituted and appointed in the churches? And how comes it to pass that there is such express mention made of the office of deacons, and the continuance of it, — none at all of elders, who are acknowledged to be superior to them, and on whose shoulders in all their own churches lies the great weight and burden of all ecclesiastical administrations? As we say of their bishops, 45so shall we of any presbyters not instituted and appointed by the authority of Jesus Christ in the church, “Let them go to the place from whence they came.”
2. I desire the doctor to inform me in what sense he would have me to understand him, Dissert. ii. cap. xxix. sect. 21, 22, where he disputes that these words of Jerome, “Antequam studia in religione fierent, et diceretur in populis, ego sum Pauli, ego Cephæ, communi presbyterorum consensu ecclesiæ gubernabantur,” are to be understood of the times of the apostles, when the first schism was in the church of Corinth, when it seems that neither then nor a good while after was there any such thing as presbyters in the church of Corinth, nor in any other church as we can hear of; as also, to tell us whether all those presbyters were bishops properly so called, distinct from elders who are only so, out of whom one man is chosen to be a bishop properly so called. To these inquiries I shall only add, —
3. That whereas in the Scripture we find clearly but two sorts of church-officers mentioned, as also in this epistle of Clemens, the third, that was afterward introduced, be it what it will, or fall on whom it will, that we oppose. This, saith the doctor, is that of presbytery. Give us churches instituted according to the word of Christ; give us in every church bishops and deacons (rather than we will quarrel, give us a bishop and deacons); let those bishops attend the particular flock over which they are appointed, preaching the word and administering the holy ordinances of the gospel in and to their own flock, — and I dare undertake for all the contenders for presbytery in this nation, and much more for the Independents, that there shall be an end of this quarrel; that they will not strive with the doctor, nor any living, for the introduction of any third sort of persons (though they should be called presbyters) into church office and government. Only this I must add, that the Scripture more frequently terms this second sort of men elders and presbyters than it doth bishops; and that word having been appropriated to a third sort peculiarly, we desire leave of the doctor and his associates if we also most frequently call them so, no ways declining the other appellation of bishops, so that it may be applied to signify the second, and not a third, rank of men. But of this whole business, with the nature, constitution, and frame, of the first churches, and the sad mistakes that men have, by their own prejudices, been engaged into in their delineation of them, a fuller opportunity, if God will, may ere long be afforded.
To return, then, to our Ignatius: Even upon this consideration of the difference that is between the epistles ascribed to him and the writings of one of the same time with him, or not long before him, as to their language and expression about church order and officers, it is evident that there hath been ill-favoured tampering with them, by them who thought to avail themselves of his authority for the asserting of that which never came into his mind.
As I intimated before, I have not insisted on any of those things, nor do on them altogether, with the like that may be added, as a sufficient foundation for the total rejection of those epistles which go under the name of Ignatius. There is in some of them a sweet and gracious spirit of faith, love, holiness, zeal for God, becoming so excellent and holy a witness of Christ as he was, evidently breathing and working. Neither is there any need at all that, for the defence of our hypothesis concerning the non-institution of any church-officer whatever relating to more churches in his office, or any other church, than a single particular congregation, 46we should so reject them; for although many passages usually insisted on, and carefully collected by Dr Hammond for the proof of such an episcopacy to have been received by them of old as is now contended for, are exceedingly remote from the way and manner of the expression of those things used by the divine writers, with them also that followed after, both before, as hath been manifested, and some while after the days of Ignatius, as might be farther clearly evinced, and are thrust into the series of the discourse with such an incoherent impertinency as proclaims an interpolation, being some of them also very ridiculous, and so foolishly hyperbolical that they fall very little short of blasphemies, yet there are expressions in all or most of them that will abundantly manifest that he who was their author (whoever he was) never dreamt of any such fabric of church-order as in after ages was insensibly reared. Men who are full of their own apprehensions, begotten in them by such representations of things as either their desired presence hath exhibited to their mind or any after-prejudicate presumption hath possessed them with, are apt, upon the least appearance of any likeness unto that church they fancy, to imagine that they see the face and all the lineaments thereof, when, upon due examination, it will be easily discovered that there is not indeed the least resemblance between what they find in, and what they bring to, the authors in and of whom they make their inquiry. The Papists, having hatched and owned by several degrees that monstrous figment of transubstantiation (to instance among many in that abomination), — a folly destructive to whatever is in us as being living creatures, men, or Christians, or whatever by sense, reason, or religion, we are furnished withal, offering violence to us in what we hear, in what we see with our eyes and look upon, in what our hands do handle, and our palates taste, breaking in upon our understandings with vagrant, flying forms, self-subsisting accidents, with as many express contradictions on sundry accounts as the nature of things is capable of relation unto, attended with more gross idolatry than that of the poor naked Indians who fall down and worship a piece of red cloth, or of those who first adore their gods and then correct them, — do yet upon the discovery of any expressions among the ancients which they now make use of quite to another end and purpose than they did who first ventured upon them, having minds filled with their own abominations, presently cry out and triumph, as if they had found the whole fardel of the mass in its perfect dress, and their breaden god in the midst of it. It is no otherwise in the case of episcopacy. Men of these latter generations, from what they saw in present being, and that usefulness of it to all their desires and interests, having entertained thoughts of love to it and delight in it, searching antiquity, not to instruct them in the truth, but to establish their prejudicate opinion received by tradition from their fathers, and to consult them with whom they have to do, whatever expressions they find or can hear of that fall in, as to the sound of words, with what is now insisted upon, instantly they cry out, “Vicimus Io Pæan!” What a simple generation of Presbyters and Independents have we, that are ignorant of all antiquity, or do not understand what they read and look upon! Hence, if we will not believe that in Ignatius’ days there were many parish churches, with their single priests, in subordination to a diocesan bishop, either immediately or by the interposed power of a chore-episcopus, and the like; and those diocesans, again, in the precincts of provinces, laid in a due subjection to their metropolitans, who took care of them as they of their parish priests; every individual church having no officer but a presbyter; every diocesan church having no presbyter, but a bishop; and every metropolitan 47church having neither presbyter nor bishop properly related unto it as such, but an archbishop, — we are worse than infidels! Truly I cannot but wonder whether it doth not sometimes enter into these men’s thoughts to apprehend how contemptible they are in their proofs for the fathering of such an ecclesiastical distribution of governors and government, as undeniably lackeyed after the civil divisions and constitutions of the times and places wherein it was introduced, upon those holy persons, whose souls never once entered into the secrets thereof.
Thus fares it with our doctor and his Ignatius: Οὐκ ἴδεν, ἀλλ’ ἐδόκησεν ἰδεῖν διὰ νύκτα σελήνην. I shall only crave leave to say to him as Augustus of Quintilius Varus, upon the loss of his legions in Germany under his command, “Quintili Vare, redde legiones. Domine doctor, redde ecclesias.” Give us the churches of Christ, such as they were in the days of the apostles, and down to Ignatius, though before that time (if Hegesippus may be believed) somewhat defloured, and our contest about church officers and government will be nearer at an end than perhaps you will readily imagine. Give us a church all whose members are holy, called, sanctified, justified, living stones, temples for the Holy Ghost, saints, believers, united to Christ the head by the Spirit that is given to them and dwelleth in them; a church whose πλῆθος is ὅπου ἂν φανῆ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος that doth nothing by its members apart, that appertains to church-order, but when it is gathered ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ· a church that being so gathered together in one place, σπουδάζει πάντα πράσσειν ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ Θεοῦ, προκαθημένου τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, acting in church things, in its whole body, under the rule and presidence of its officers; a church walking in order, and not as some, who ἐπίσκοπον μὲν καλοῦσιν, χώρις δὲ αὐτοῦ πάντα πράσσουσιν, (of whom, saith Ignatius, ὅι τοιοῦτοι οὐκ εὐσυνείδητοι μὲν εἶναι φαίνονται, διὰ μὲν τὸ μὴ βεβαίως κατ’ ἐντολὴν συναθροίζεσθαι, such as calling the bishop to the assemblies, yet do all things without him, — the manner of some in our days, — he supposeth not to keep the assemblies according to the command of Christ); — give us, I say, such a church, and let us come to them when they are πάντες ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ ἅμα συναχθέντες, such as the churches in the days of Ignatius appear to have been, and are so rendered in the quotations taken from his epistles by the learned doctor for the confirmation of episcopacy, and, as I said before, the contest of this present digression will quickly draw to an issue. Being unwilling to go too far out of my way, I shall not, —
1. Consider the severals instanced in for the proof of episcopacy by the doctor. Seeing undeniably the interpretation must follow and be proportioned by the general issue of that state of the church in the days wherein those epistles were writ, or are pretended so to be, if that appear to be such as I have mentioned, I presume the doctor himself will confess that his witnesses speak not one word to his business, for whose confirmation he doth produce them. Nor, —
2. Shall I insist upon the degeneration of the institutions and appointments of Jesus Christ concerning church administrations, in the management of the succeeding churches, as principled and spirited by the operative and efficacious mystery of iniquity, occasioned and advantaged by the accommodation of ecclesiastical affairs to the civil distributions and merits of the political state of things in those days. Nor, —
3. Insist much farther on the exceeding dissimilitude and unconformity that is between the expressions concerning church officers and affairs in these epistles (whencesoever they come), and those in the writings of unquestionable credit immediately before and after them, as also the utter 48silence of the Scripture in those things wherewith they so abound. The Epistle of Clemens, of which mention was made before, was written for the composing and quieting of a division and distemper that was fallen out in the church of Corinth. Of the cause of that dissension that then miserably rent that congregation, he informs us in that complaint that some οὐ δικαίως ἀπποβαλέσθαι τῆς λειτουργίας, were wrongfully cast from the ministry by the multitude: and he tells you that these were good, honest men, and faithful in the discharge of their duty; for saith he, Ὁρῶμεν ὅτι ἐνίους ὑμεῖς μετηγάγετε, καλῶς πολιτευομένους, ἐκ τῆς ἀμέμπτως αὐτοῖς τετιμημένης λειτουργίας, though they were unblamable both in their conversation and ministry, yet they removed them from their office. To reprove this evil, to convince them of the sinfulness of it, to reduce them to a right understanding of their duty and order, walking in the fellowship of the gospel, what course doth he proceed in? what arguments doth he use? He minds them of one God, one Christ, one body, one faith; tells them that wicked men alone use such ways and practices; bids them read the epistle of Paul, formerly written to them upon occasion of another division, and to be subject to their own elders, and all of them to leave off contending, quietly doing the things which the people, or the body of the church, delivered and commanded. Now, had this person, writing on this occasion, using all sorts of arguments, artificial or inartificial, for his purpose, been baptized into the opinion and esteem of a single episcopal superintendent, — whose exaltation seems to be the design of much which is said in the epistles of Ignatius, in the sense wherein his words are usually taken, — and yet never once so much as bid them be subject to the bishop, that “resemblance of God the Father, supplying of the place of Christ,” nor told them how terrible a thing it was to disobey trim, nor pawned his soul for theirs that should submit to him, that all that obeyed him were safe, all that disobeyed him were rebellious, cursed, and separated from God; what apology can be made for the weakness and ignorance of that holy martyr, if we shall suppose him to have had apprehensions like those in these epistles of that sacred order, for omitting those all-conquering reasons which they would have supplied him withal to his purpose in hand, and pitching on arguments every way less cogent and useful? But I say I shall not insist on any such things as these, but only, —
4. I say that there is not in any of the doctor’s excerpta from these epistles, nor in any passage in them, any mention or the least intimation of any church whereunto any bishop was related, but such an one as whose members met all together in one place, and with their bishop disposed and ordered the affairs of the church. Such was that whereunto the holy martyr was related; such were those neighbouring churches that sent bishops or elders to that church; and when the doctor proves the contrary, “erit mihi magnus Apollo.” From the churches, and their state and constitution, is the state and condition of their officers, and their relation to them, to be taken. Let that be manifested to be such, from the appointment of Jesus Christ by his apostles, or de facto in the days of Ignatius, or before the contemperation of ecclesiastical affairs, occasionally or by choice, to the civil constitution of cities and provinces in those days, as would, or possibly could, bear a rural, diocesan, metropolitical hierarchy, and this controversy will be at an end. When this is by any attempted to be demonstrated, I desire it may not be with such sentences as that urged by our doctor from Epist. ad Eph., Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς τοῦ πατρὸς ἡ γνώμη, ὡς καὶ οἱ ἐπίσκοποι οἱ κατὰ τὰ πέρατα ὁρισθέντες Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ γνώμη εἰσὶν· the expression in it concerning Christ being unsound, unscriptural; concerning 49bishops, unintelligible or ridiculous. But it may be said, “What need we any more writing, what need we any truer proof or testimony? the learned doctor, in his Dissertations, Dissert. iv. cap. v. hath abundantly discharged this work, and proved the seven bishops of the seven churches mentioned Rev. ii., iii., to have been metropolitans or archbishops, so that no just cause remains why we should farther contend.”
Let, then, the reader pardon this my utmost excursion in this digression, to whose compass I had not the least thought of going forth at the entrance thereof, and I shall return thither whence I have turned aside.
Dissert. iv. cap. v., the doctor tells us that “Septem ecclesiarum angeli, non tantum episcopi sed et metropolitæ, i.e., archiepiscopi statuendi sunt, i.e., principalium urbium ἔξαρχοι ad quos provinciæ integræ et in iis multarum inferiorum urbium ecclesiæ, earumque episcopi tanquam ad archiepiscopum aut metropolitanum pertinebant.”
The doctor in this chapter commences per saltum, and taking it for granted that he hath proved diocesan bishops sufficiently before, though he hath scarce spoken any one word to that purpose in his whole book (for to prove one superintending in a church by the name of bishop, others acting in some kind of subordination to him by the name of elders and presbyters, will, upon the account of what hath been offered concerning the state of the churches in those days, no way reach to the maintenance of this presumption), he sacrifices his pains to the metropolitical archiepiscopal dignity, which, as we must suppose, is so clearly founded in Scripture and antiquity that they are as blind as bats and moles who cannot see the ground and foundation of it.
But, first, be it taken for granted that the angels of the seven churches are to be taken for the governors of those churches, then that each angel be an individual bishop of the church to which he did belong; secondly, be it also granted that they were bishops of the most eminent church or churches in that province, or Roman political distribution of those countries in the management of the government of them, I say bishops of such churches, not “urbium ἔξαρχοι,” as the doctor terms them; — what advance is made by all this to the assertion of a metropolitical archiepiscopacy I cannot as yet discover. That they were ordinary officers of Christ’s institution, relating in their office and ordinary discharge of it not only to the particular churches wherein they were placed, but to many churches also, no less committed to their charge than those wherein they did reside, the officers, rulers, governors of which churches depended on them, not only as to their advice and counsel, but as to their power and jurisdiction, holding their place and employment from them, is some part of that which, in this undertaking, is incumbent on our doctor to make good, if he will not be supposed to prevaricate in the cause in hand. To this end he informs us, sect. secunda, that in the New Testament there is in sundry places mention made of “churches” in the plural number, as Gal. i. 2, 22; 1 Thess. ii. 14; Acts ix. 31, xv. 41; 1 Cor. xvi. 1; Rev. i. 11; — sometimes of “church” only in the singular number, as Acts viii. 1, xi. 26, xv. 3, 4, 22, Rom. xvi. 1; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Cor. i. 1; 1 Thess. i. 1; Rev. ii. 1, 8, 12, 18, iii. 1, 7, 14. Now, this is an observation, which as we are not at all beholden to the doctor for it, no more, I suppose, will there be found to be to it when the reason of it shall be a little weighed and considered. The sum is, that the name “church” in the singular number is never used but when it relates to the single congregation in, or of, one city or town; that of “churches” respecting the several churches or congregations that were gathered in any country or province. Manifest, then, is it from hence that there is in 50the New Testament no “church” of one denomination beyond a single congregation; and where there are more, they are always called “churches.” How evidently this is destructive to any diocesan or metropolitical officer, who hath no church left him thereby of Christ’s institution to be related to, another opportunity will manifest. For the present, let us see what use our doctor makes of this observation.
Sect. 3, says he, “Judea, and the rest of the places where churches are mentioned, are the names of provinces ἐπαρχιῶν, quatenus eæ παροικίαις et διοικήσεσι, contradistinguntur.” If the doctor takes these words in an ecclesiastical sense, he begs that which will, upon such unworthy terms, never be granted him; but if no more be intended but that Judea, Galatia, and the like names of countries, were provinces wherein were many churches, Smyrna, Ephesus, of towns and cities wherein there was but one, we grant it with him.
And how much that concession of ours is to his advantage hath been intimated. And this seems to be his intendment by his following words: “Provinciarum inquam in quibus plurimæ civitates, singulæ singularum ecclesiarum sedes, comprehendebantur, ideoque ecclesiæ in plurali istius sive istius provinciæ dicendæ.” Well, what then? “Cum tamen unaquæque civitas, cure territorio sibi adjuncto (λῆρος!) ab episcopo suo administrata, singularis ecclesia dicenda sit; ideoque quod κατ’ ἐκκλησίαν, factum dicitur, Acts xiv. 23; κατὰ πόλιν, fieri jubetur, Titus i. 5.” That in every city there was a singular church in those provinces (I speak of those where any number were converted to the faith) I grant; for the annexed territories let the doctor take care, there being one church at Corinth and another at Cenchrea: so that every single city had its own single church, with its bishops in it, as at Philippi. The passage mentioned by the doctor concerning the Epistle of Dionysius to the Church at Gortyna in Crete is very little to his purpose; neither doth he call Philip, the bishop of that church, the bishop of all the other churches in Crete, as the doctor intimates, but the bishop of them to whom especially and eminently he wrote.
Sect 4, application is made of the forementioned observation, sect. 2, and the interpretation given of it, sect. 3, in these words: “His sic positis, illud statim sequitur ut (in imperii cognitione) in provincia qualibet, cure plures urbes sint, una tamen primaria, et principalis censenda erat, μητρόπολις ideo dicta, cui itidem inferiores reliquæ civitates subjiciebantur, ut civitatibus regiones, sic et inter ecclesias et cathedras episcopales unam semper primariam et metropoliticam fuisse.”
In this section the doctor hath most ingenuously and truly given us the rise and occasion of his diocesan and metropolitical prelates. From the aims of men to accommodate ecclesiastical or church affairs to the state and condition of the civil government, and distributions of provinces, metropolitan cities, and chief towns, within the several dependencies (the neighbouring villages being cast in as things of no great esteem to the lot of the next considerable town and seat of judicature), did the hierarchy which he so sedulously contendeth for arise. What advantages were afforded to the work by the paucity of believers in the villages and less towns (from which at length the whole body of heathenish idolaters were denominated Pagans); the first planting of churches in the greater cities; the eminence of the officers of the first churches in those cities; the weakness of many rural bishops; the multiplying and growing (in numbers, and persons of gifts, abilities, and considerable fortunes and employments in this world,) in the metropolitan cities, with their fame thereby; the tradition of the abode of some one or other of the apostles in such cities and churches; 51the eminent accommodation for the administration of civil jurisdiction and other affairs, which appeared in that subordination and dependency whereinto the provinces, chief cities, and territories in the Roman empire were cast; with what opportunities Satan got by these means to introduce the ways, state, pomp, words, phrases, terms of honour of the world into the churches, insensibly getting ground upon them, and prevailing to their declension from the naked simplicity and purity wherein they were first planted, — some other occasion may give advantage for us to manifest. For the present it may suffice that it is granted that the magnific hierarchy of the church arose from the accommodation of its state and condition [to that] of the Roman empire and provinces; and this, in the instances of after-ages that might be produced, will easily be made yet farther evident in those shameful, or, indeed, rather shameless, contests which fell out among the bishops of the third century and downward about precedency, titles of honour, extent of jurisdiction, ecclesiastical subjection to or exemption from one another. The considerableness of their cities, in the civil state of the Roman empire, where they did reside was still the most prevalent and cogent argument in their brawls. The most notable brush that in all antiquity we find given to the great leviathan of Rome, who sported himself in those “gatherings together of the waters of people, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues,” or the “general councils,” as they are called, was from an argument taken from the seat of the empire being fixed at Constantinople, making it become new Rome, so that the bishop of the church there was to enjoy equal privileges with him whose lot was fallen in the old imperial city. Rut our doctor adds, —
Sect. 5, “Illud ex Judæorum exemplari transcripsisse apostoli videntur; cum Mosaica id lege cautum esset, ut judices et ministri in qualibet civitate ordinarentur, Deut. xvi. 18. Illi vero in rebus dubiis ad judicem (Mosis successorem) synedrio Hierosolymitano cinctum recurrere tenerentur,” cap. xvii. 9. And in sect. 6, he proves Jerusalem to have been the metropolis of that whole nation. Egregiam vero laudem! But, —
1. The doctor, I presume, knows before this that those with whom he hath to do will never give him the thing in question upon his begging or request. That which alone falls in under our consideration and inquiry is, whether the apostles instituted any such model of church order and government as is by the doctor contended for: to this he tells you that the apostles seem to have done it from the pattern of Mosaical institutions in the church of the Jews. But, doctor, the question is not with what respect they did it, but whether they did it at all or no. This the doctor thought good to let alone until another time, if we would not grant him upon his petition that so they did.
2. This, then, is the doctor’s second argument for his diocesan and metropolitan prelates; his first was from the example of the heathens in their civil administration and rule, this second from the example of the Jews. Not to divert into the handling of the church and political state of the Jews as appointed of God, nor into that dissonancy that is between the institution of civil magistrates and evangelical administrations, this is the sum of the doctor’s reasoning in his 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th sections:— “God, in the church and among the people of the Jews, chose out one city to place his name there, making it the place where all the types and ceremonies which he had appointed for the discovery and shadowing forth of the Lord Jesus Christ were visibly and gloriously to be managed, acted, and held forth (sundry of them being such as whose typicalness would have been destroyed by their multiplication), and principally on this account 52making that place or city (which was first Shiloh) the seat of the kingdom, or habitation of the chief ruler for the administration of justice, who appointed judges in all the land, for the good and peace of the people; therefore, the churches of Jesus Christ, dispersed over the face of the whole world, freed from obligations to cities or mountains, walking before God in and with a pure and spiritual worship, having no one reason of that former institution in common with the church of the Jews, must be cast into the same mould and figure.” I hope without offence I may take leave to deny the consequence, and what more I have to say to this argument I shall yet defer.
But the doctor proceeds to prove that indeed the apostles did dispose of the churches in this frame and order, according to the pattern of the civil government of the Roman empire and that instituted of God among the Jews. The 9th section, wherein he attempts the proof of this assertion, is as followeth:—
“Ad hanc imaginem, apostolos ecclesias ubique disponendas curasse, et in omnibus plantationibus suis, minorum ab eminentioribus civitatibus dependentiam, et subordinationem constituisse exemplis quidem plurimis monstrari possit, illud in Syria et Cilicia patet, Acts xvi. 4; cum enim ζήτημα illud, cap. xv. 2, Hierosolymas referretur ab ecclesia ἰδίως Antiochiæ, cap. xiv. 26, xv. 3; et decretum ab apostolis denuo ad eos mitteretur, ver. 22; in epistola, qua decretum illud continebatur simul cum Antiochensibus τοὺς κατὰ Συρίαν καὶ Κιλικίαν ἀδελφοὺς comprehensos videmus, ver. 23. Dein epistola ista Antiochenæ ecclesiæ reddita, ver. 30. Paulus tandem et Silas Syriam et Cilieiam peragrantes, ver. 41, cap. xvi. 4, δόγματα κεκριμένα ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων, singulis civitatibus observanda tradiderunt, ut quæ ad hanc Antiochiæ metropolin, ut totidem subordinatæ ecclesiæ pertinerent; ut et ipsa Antiochia ad Hierosolymas, primariam tam latæ (ut ex Philone prædiximus) provinciæ metropolin pertinebat, et ad eam ad dirimendam litem istam se conferebat.”
This being all that the doctor hath to produce from the Scripture to his purpose in hand, I have transcribed it at large; for this being removed, all that follows will fall of its own accord:—
First, then, the dependence on and subordination of lesser cities to the greater is asserted as an apostolical institution. Now, because I suppose the doctor will not assert, nor doth intend, a civil dependence and subordination of cities as such among themselves; nor will a dependence as to counsel, advice, assistance, and the like supplies, which in their mutual communion the lesser churches might receive from the greater and more eminent, serve his turn; but an ecclesiastical dependence and subordination, such as whereby many particular churches, with inferior officers residing in them and with them, depended on and were in subjection unto some one person of a superior order, commonly residing in some eminent city, and many of these governors of a superior order in the greater cities were in such subordination unto some one of high degree, termed a metropolitan, and all this by apostolical institution, is that which he aimeth at: which being a most gallant adventure in a waking generation, we shall doubtless find him quitting himself like a man in his undertaking.
Secondly, then, he tells you that the question about Mosaical rites and necessity of their observation was referred to Jerusalem by the single church of Antioch. But how does the doctor make good this first step? which yet if he could, would do him he good at all. It is true that Paul was now come to Antioch, chap. xiv. 26; also, that he was brought on his way by the church, chap. xv. 3; but yet that the brethren who were taught the doctrine contested 53about, verses 1, 2, were only of the church of Antioch (when it is most certain, from the epistles of Paul to the Galatians, Colossians, Romans, and others, that great disturbance was raised far and wide, in all the churches of the Gentiles, about this controversy), nothing is offered. It seems, indeed, that their disputes grew to the greatest height at Antioch, whither brethren from other parts and churches did also come whilst Barnabas and Paul abode there; but that that single church referred the determining of that controversy to them at Jerusalem, exclusively to others, the doctor proves not. And it is most evident, from the return of the answer sent by the apostles from Jerusalem, verse 23, that the reference was from all the churches of the Gentiles, yea, and all the scattered brethren, perhaps as yet not brought into church order, not only at Antioch, but also throughout Syria and Cilicia. It is then granted, what he next observes, namely, that in the answer returned from Jerusalem, with them at Antioch those in Syria and Cilicia are joined; the reason of it being manifest, namely, their trouble about the same controversy being no less than theirs at Antioch. It is also granted, that, as Paul passed through the cities, he delivered them the decrees to keep that were ordained by the apostles and elders, chap. xvi. 4; and that not only to the churches of Syria and Cilicia, which he left, chap. xv. 41, but also to those throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, chap. xvi. 6. What now follows out of all this? What but that Antioch, by apostolical institution, was the metropolitan see of all the churches of Syria and Cilicia! Good doctor, do not be angry, but tell us how this may be proved. Why, doubtless it was so, as Antioch belonged to the metropolitan church at Jerusalem, as he told us out of Philo! (who was excellently acquainted with apostolical institutions.) What Jerusalem was to the whole church and nation of the Jews, whilst the name of God was fixed there, we know; but what was the primitive estate of the churches of Jesus Christ, made up of Jews and Gentiles, tied neither to city nor mountain, I must be pardoned if I cannot find the doctor making any tender of manifesting or declaring. The reason of referring this controversy unto a determination at Jerusalem the Holy Ghost acquaints us with, chap. xv. 2; so that we have no need of this metropolitical figment to inform us in it. And now if we will not only not submit to diocesan bishops, but also not reverence the grave metropolitans, standing upon such clear apostolical institution, it is fit that all the world should count us the arrantest schismatics that ever lived since Pope Boniface’s time. The sum, then, of this doughty argument for the apostolical institution of metropolitans (that none might ever more dare to call diocesans into question hereafter) is this: Paul, who was converted about the third or fourth year of Caligula, five or six years after the ascension of Christ, having with great success for three years preached the gospel, went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, upon the persecution raised against him at Damascus, chap. ix. 22–27; whence, returning to his work, he went first to Tarsus, verse 30; thence to Antioch, where he abode one whole year, chap. xi. 25, 26; and was then sent to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints, about the fourth year of Claudius, verses 29, 30; thence returning again to Antioch, he was sent out by the command of the Holy Ghost, more eminently and peculiarly than formerly, for the conversion of the Gentiles, chap. xiii. 1–3. In this undertaking, in the space of a year or two, he preached and gathered churches (whereof express mention is made) at Salamis, chap. xiii. 5; at Paphos, verse 6; at Perga in Pamphylia, verse 13; at Antioch in Pisidia, verse 14; at Iconium, chap. xiv. 1; at Lystra and Derbe, verse 6; and at Perga, verse 25: in all these places gathering some believers to Christ; whom, before they returned 54to Antioch, he visited all over the second time, and settled elders in the several congregations, chap. xiv. 21–23. In this journey and travel for the propagation of the gospel, he seems in all places to have been followed, almost at the heels, by the professing Pharisees, who imposed the necessity of the observation of the Mosaical ceremonies upon his new converts; for instantly upon his return to Antioch, where, during his absence, probably they had much prevailed, he falls into dispute with them, chap. xv. 1, 2 — and that he was not concerned in this controversy only upon the account of the church of Antioch, himself informs us, Gal. ii. 4, affirming that the false brethren which caused those disputes and dissensions crept in to spy out his liberty in his preaching the gospel among the Gentiles, verse 2, — that is, in the places before mentioned, throughout a great part of Asia. For the appeasing of this difference, and the establishing of the souls of the disciples, which were grievously perplexed with the imposition of the Mosaical yoke, it is determined that the case should be resolved by the apostles, Acts xv. 2; partly because of their authority in all the churches, wherein those who contended with Paul would be compelled to acquiesce, and partly because those Judaizing teachers pretended the commission of the apostles for the doctrine they preached, as is evident from the disclaimure made by them of any such commission or command, verse 24. Upon Paul’s return from the assembly at Jerusalem, wherein the great controversy about Jewish ceremonies was stated and determined, after he had in the first place delivered the decrees and apostolical salutation by epistle to the church at Antioch, he goes with them also to the churches in Syria and Cilicia, expressed in the letter by name, as also to those in Pamphylia, Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, etc., chap. xvi. 1–4, and all the churches which he had gathered and planted in his travels through Asia, whereunto he was commanded by the Holy Ghost, chap. xiii. 1, 2. Things being thus stated, it necessarily follows that the apostles had instituted diocesan and metropolitan bishops; for though the churches were so small, and thin, and few in number, that, seven years after this, may we believe our doctor, the apostles had not instituted or appointed any elders or presbyters in them, — namely, when Paul wrote his epistle to the Philippians, which was when he was prisoner in Rome, as appears, chap. i. 7, 13, 14, iv. 22, about the third year of Nero, — yet that he had fully built and settled the hierarchical fabric contended for, who once dares question!
Creditur a multis fiducia.”
[Juven., xiii. 109, 110.]
But if this will not do, yet Ignatius hits the nail on the head, and is ready at hand to make good whatsoever the doctor will have him say, and his testimony takes up the sense of the two next following sections, whereof the first is as follows:—
“Hinc dicti Ignatiani ratio constat in epistola ad Romanos, ubi ille Antiochiæ episcopus se τῆς ἐν Συρίᾳ ἐκκλησίας ποιμένα, pastorem ecclesiæ quæ est in Syria appellet, eum ad Antiochiam, scil. ut ad metropolin suam tota Syria pertineret. Sic et author epistolæ ad Antiochenos, ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, eam inscribens totam, Syriam ejus παροικίαν esse concludit.”
But yet I fear the doctor will find he hath need of other weapons and other manner of assistance to make good the cause he hath undertaken. The words of Ignatius in that epistle to the Romans are, [cap. ix.] Μνημονεύετε ἐν τῇ εὐχῃ ὑμῶν τῆς ἐν Συρίᾳ ἐκκλησίας ἧτις ἀντ’ ἐμοῦ ποιμένι χρῆται τῷ Κυρίῳ. Because he recommends to them that particular church in Syria, which, 55by his imprisonment, was deprived of its pastor, therefore, without doubt, he was a metropolitical archbishop: “Tityre, tu patulæ,” etc. But the doctor is resolved to carry his cause; and therefore, being forsaken of all fair and honest means from whence he might hope for assistance or success, he tries (as Saul the witch of Endor) the counterfeit, spurious title of a counterfeit epistle to the Antiochians, to see if that will speak any comfortable words for his relief or no. And to make sure work, he causes this gentleman so to speak as if he intended to make us believe that Syria was in Antioch, not Antioch in Syria; as in some remote parts of the world, they say, they inquire whether London be in England or England in London. What other sense can be made of the words as by the doctor transcribed? Ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ; — “To the church of God dwelling in Syria, which is in Antioch.” Now if this be so, I shall confess it is possible we may be in more errors than one, and that we much want the learned doctor’s assistance for our information. The words themselves, as they are used by the worshipful writer of that epistle, will scarce furnish us with this learned and rare notion: they are at length, Ἰγνάτιος ὁ καὶ Θεοφόρος (for so he first opens his mouth with a lie), ἐκκλησίᾳ ἡλεημένῃ ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, ἐκλελεγμένῃ ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ, καὶ πρώτῃ Χριστοῦ ἐπωνυμίαν λαβούσῃ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ. What is here more expressed than that the latter passage, “In Antioch,” is restrictive of what went and before was spoken of its residence in Syria, with reference to the name of Christians, first given to the disciples in that place, I know not; and therefore it is most certain that the apostles instituted metropolitan archbishops ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι!
But to make all sure, the learned doctor will not so give over; but, sect. 11, he adds that the epigraph of the epistle to the Romans grants him the whole case; that is, Ἐκκλησίᾳ ἥτις προκάθηται ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων· “Ex qua,” saith he, “ecclesiæ Romanæ, ejusque episcopo super ecclesiis omnibus in urbicaria regione, aut provincia Romana contentis, præfecturam competiise videmus.”
Although I have spent some time in the consideration of men’s conjectures of those suburbicarian churches, that, as is pretended, are here pointed to, and the rise of the bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction over those churches, in a correspondency to the civil government of the prefect of the city, yet so great a critic in the Greek tongue as Casaubon, Exer. xvi. ad An. 150, having professed that expression, Ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων, to be “barbarous” and “unintelligible,” I shall not contend about it. For the presidency mentioned of the church in or at Rome, that it was a presidency of jurisdiction, and not only an eminency of faith and holiness, that is intended, the doctor thinks it not incumbent on him to prove, — those with whom he hath to do are of another mind, — although by this time some alteration might be attempted, yea there was, as elsewhere shall be showed. And so much for Ignatius’ archiepiscopacy.
The example of Alexandria is urged in the next place, in these words: “Idem de Alexandria, de qua Eusebius, Marcum, Ἐκκλησίας πρῶτο ἐπ’ αὐτῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας συστήσασθαι, Ecclesias (in plurali) primum in Alexandria instituisse. Has omnes ab eo sub nomine τῆς ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ παροικίας, administrandas suscepisse Annianum, Neronis anno octavo idem Eusebius affirmat; quibus patet primariam Alexandria et patriarchalem cathedram fixam esse, ad quam reliquæ provinciæ illius ecclesiæ a Marco plantatæ, ut ad metropoliticam suam pertinebant.” Doubtless; for, — 1. There is not any passage in any ancient author more clearly discovering the uncertainty of many things in antiquity than this pointed to by the doctor in Eusebius; 56for, first, the sending of Mark the evangelist into Egypt, and his preaching there at Alexandria what he had written in the Gospel, is but a report. Men said so, but what ground they had for their saying so he relates not. And yet we know what a foundation of many assertions by following writers this rumour or report is made to be. 2. In the very next words the author affirms, and insists long upon it in the next chapter, that Philo’s book περὶ τοῦ βίου τῶν Ἀσκητῶν, was written concerning the Christians converted by Mark’s preaching at Alexandria, when it is notoriously known that it treateth of the Essenes, a sect among the Jews, amongst whose observances many things were vain, superstitious, and foolish, unworthy to be once applauded as the practice of any Christian in those days; that same Philo, as far as can be gathered, living and dying in the Jewish religion, having been employed by them with an apology to Rome in the days of Caligula. But, 3. Suppose that Mark were at Alexandria, and preached the gospel there (which is not improbable), and planted sundry churches in that great and populous city of Jews and Gentiles; and that, as an evangelist, the care of those churches was upon him in a peculiar manner; nay, and add farther, that after his death, as Jerome assures us, the elders and presbyters of those churches chose out one among themselves to preside in their convocations and meetings; — if, I say, all this be supposed, what will ensue? Why, then, it is manifest that there was fixed at Alexandria a patriarchal chair and a metropolitical church, according to the appointment of Jesus Christ by his apostles! “Si hoc non sit probationum satis, nescio quid sit satis.” If some few congregations live together in love, and communion, and the fellowship of the gospel in a city, he is stark blind that sees not that to be an archbishop’s see. The reason is as clear as his in the Comedian for the freedom of his wife:— “Sy. Utinam Phrygiam uxorem meam una mecum videam liberam. Dem. Optimam mulierem quidem. Sy. Et quidem nepoti tuo, hujus filio, hodie primam mammam dedit hæc. Dem. Hercle, vero, serio, siquidem primam dedit haud dubium quin emitti æquom siet. Mic. Ob eam rem? Dem. Ob eam.”77 Ter. Adel. v. 9, 15, etc. And there is an end of the contest. The doctor, indeed, hath sundry other sections added to those foregoing; which as they concern times more remote from those who first received the apostolical institutions, so I must ingenuously profess that I cannot see any thing whereon to fasten a suspicion of a proof, so far as to call it into examination, and therefore I shall absolve the reader from the penalty of this digression.
The truth is, when I first named Ignatius for a witness in the cause I am pleading for, I little thought of that excursion which I have occasionally been drawn out unto. When first I cast an eye, some few months since, upon the dissertations of the learned doctor in defence of episcopacy, and saw it so chequered with Greek and Latin, so full of quotations divine and human, I began to think that he dealt with his adversaries “hastisque, clypeisque, et saxis grandibus,” that there would be no standing before his shower of arguments. But after a little serious perusal, I must take leave to say that I was quickly of another mind; with the reason of which change of thoughts, could I once obtain the leisure of a few days or hours, I should quickly, God willing, acquaint them who are concerned in affairs of this nature. In the meantime, if the reader will pardon me this digression, having given him an account of my thoughts concerning the epistles of Ignatius, I shall, in a procedure upon my first intention, bring forth some testimonies from him, “et valeant quantum valere possunt.”
He seems, in the first place, to speak sufficiently clearly to the death of 57Christ for his church, for believers, in a peculiar manner; which is one considerable bottom and foundation of the truth we plead for: Epist. ad Trall. [cap. viii.], Γίνεσθε μιμηταὶ παθημάτων (Χριστοῦ), καὶ ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠμάπησεν ἡμᾶς, δοὺς ἑαυτὸν περὶ ἡμῶν λύτρον, ἵνα τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς παλαιᾶς δυσσεζείας, καὶ ζωὴν ἡμῖν παράσχηται, μέλλοντας, ὅσον οὐδέπω, ἀπόλλυσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς ἐν ἡμῖν κακίας.
And again, Epist. ad. Philad. [cap. ix.]: By Christ, saith he, εἰσῆλθον Ἀβραὰμ, καὶ Ἰσαὰκ, καὶ Ἰακὼβ, Μωσῆς, καὶ ὁ σὐμπας τῶν προφητῶν χορὸς, καὶ οἱ στύλοι τοῦ κόσμου οἱ ἀπόστολοι, καὶ ἡ νύμφη τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὑπὲρ ἧς (φερνῆς λόγῳ) ἐξέχες τὸ οἰκεῖον αἷμα, ἵνα αὐτὴν ἐξαγοράσῃ· with many the like expressions. His confidence also of the saints’ perseverance, for whom Christ thus died, he doth often profess. Speaking of the faith of the gospel, he adds: Ταῦτα ὁ γνοὺς ἐν πληροφορίᾳ καὶ πιστεύσας μακάριος, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ὑμεῖς φιλόθεοι καὶ φιλόχριστοί ἐστε, ἐν πληροφορίᾳ τῆς ἐλπίδος ὑμῶν, ἧς ἐκτραπῆναι μηδενὶ ὑμῶν γένηται.
And again more clearly and fully to the same purpose Epist. ad Smyrn. [cap. i.]: Ἐνόηασ γὰρ ὑμᾶς κατηρτισμένους ἐν ἀκινήτῳ πίστει, ὥσπερ καθηλωμένους ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, σαρκί τε καὶ πνεύματι καὶ ἡδρασμένους ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐν τῷ αἴματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πεπληροφορημένους ὡς ἀληθῶς, etc. And this confirmation and establishment in believing he ascribes not their manly considerations, but to the grace of Christ, exclusively to any of their own strength, Epist. ad Smyrn. [cap. iv.]: Πάντα, saith he of himself, ὑπομένω διὰ Χριστὸν, εἰς τὸ συμπαθεῖν αὐτῷ, αὐτού ἐνδυναμοῦντος, οὐ γάρ μοι τοσοῦτον σθένος.
To the same purpose, and with the same confident persuasion, he speaks, Epist. ad Ephesians, [cap. ix.]:—
Ῥύσεται ὑμᾶς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς, ὁ θεμελιώσας ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν, ὠς λίθους ἐκλεκτοὺς εὐαρμολογουμένους εἰς οἰκοδομὴν θείαν Πατρὸς, ἀναφερομένους εἰς τὰ ὕψη διὰ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν σταυρωθέντος, σχοίνῳ χρωμένους τῷ Ἁγίω Πνέυματι, etc.
And again in the same epistle [cap. xiv.]: Ἀρχὴ ζωῆς πίστις τέλος δὲ ἀγάπη·, τᾶ δὲ δύο ἐν ἐνότητι γενόμενα Θεοῦ ἄνθρωπον ἀποτελεῖ· τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πάντα εἰς καλοκᾳγαθίαν ἀκόλουαθά ἐστι.
And in his last epistle [ad Rom. cap. vii.], he gives us that noble expression of his own assurance: Ὁ ἐμὸς ἔρως ἐσταύρωται, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἐμοὶ πῦρ φιλοῦν τι· ὕδωρ δὲ ζῶν ἀλλόμενον ἐν ἐμοὶ, ἔσωθέν μοι λέγει, Δεῦρο πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα· where we leave the holy soul until the same God gather us to him and the rest of the spirits of just men made perfect.
And this was the language, these were the exressions, of this holy man; which what they discover of his judgment on the case under consideration is left to the learned reader to consider. This I am certain, our adversaries have very little cause to boast of the consent of the primitive Christians with them in the doctrine of apostasy, there being in these ancient writers after the apostles, about the things of our religion, not the left shadow cast upon it for its refreshment.
Add, in the next place, the most ancient of the Latins, Tertullian, that great storehouse of all manner of leaning and knowledge. Saith “Quemadmodum nobis arrhabonem spiritus reliquit, ita et a nobis arrhabonem carnis accepit, et vexit in cœlum, pignus totius summæ illuc redigendæ,” Tertull., De Resur. The certain salvation of the whole body of Christ, with whom he hath that communion as to give them his Spirit, as he took their flesh (for he took upon him flesh and blood, because the children were partakers of the same), is evidently asserted; which he could not do who thought that any of those on whom he bestowed his Spirit might perish everlastingly.
And again, De Præscripti. advers. Hæret.: “In pugna pugilum et gladiatorum, 58plerumque non quia fortis est, vincit quis, aut quia non potest vinci; sed quoniam ille qui victus est, nullis viribus fuit: adeo idem ille victor bene valenti postea comparatus, etiam superatus recedit. Non aliter hæreses de quorundam infirmitatibus habent quod valent, nihil valentes si in bene valentem fidem incurrant. Solent quidem isti infirmines etiam de quibusdam personis ab hæresi captis ædificari in ruinam; quare ille vel illa, fidelissimi, prudentissimi, et usitatissimi in ecclesia, in illam partem transiterunt? Quis hoc dicens non ipse sibi respondet, neque prudentes, neque fideles, neque usitatos æstimandos quos hæresis potuit demutare?” He plainly denies them to have been believers (that is, truly, thoroughly, properly so) who fall into pernicious heresies to their destruction.
Cyprian is express to our purpose. Saith he, “Nemo existimet bonos de ecclesia posse discedere. Triticum non rapit ventus, nec arborem solida radice fundatam procella subvertit; Inanes paleæ tempestate jactantur, invalidæ arbores turbinis incursione evertuntur. Hos execratur et percutit Johannes apostolus, dicens, ‘Ex nobis exierunt, sed non fuerunt ex nobis, si enim fuissent ex nobis, mansissent utique nobiscum,’ ” Cypr. De Unit. Eccles. [cap. ii.] The whole doctrine we contend for is plainly and clearly asserted, and bottomed on a text of Scripture; which in a special manner (as we have cause) we do insist upon. All that is lost by temptations in the church was but chaff; the wheat abides, and the rooted tree is not cast down. Those fall away who indeed were never true believers in heart and by union, whatever their profession was. And yet we are within the compass of that span of time which our adversaries, without proof, without shame, claim to be theirs. One principal foundation of our doctrine is the bestowing of the Holy Ghost upon believers, by Jesus Christ. Where he is so bestowed, there, say we, he abides; for he is given them for that end, — namely, to “abide with them for ever.” Now, concerning him Basil tells us, that “though, in a sort, he may be said to be present with all that are baptized, yet he is never mixed with any that are not worthy; that is, he dwells not with any that obtain not salvation,” Basil, Lib. de Spir. Sanc. cap. xvi.; — Νῦν μὲν γὰρ εἰ καὶ μὴ ἀνακέκραται τοῖς ἀναξίοις· ἀλλὰ οὖν παρεῖναι δοκεῖ πῶς τοῖς ἅπαξ ἐσφραγισμένοις. By that seeming presence of the Holy Ghost with hypocrites that are baptized professors, he evidently intends the common gifts and graces that he bestows upon them; and this is all he grants to them who are not at last (for such he discourses of) found worthy.
Macarius Ægyptius, Homil. v., about the same time with the other, or somewhat before, is of the same mind. He tells us that those who are Christians ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ δυνάμει, ἀσφαλεῖς εἰσιν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀῤῥαβῶνος, οὗ ἐδέξαντο νῦν, ὡς ἤδη ἐστεφανωμένοι καὶ βασιλεύοντες. And how men can be assured of heaven whilst they live here, by the earnest of it which they have received, as well as if they were crowned and reigning in heaven, if those who have received that earnest may lose it again, I know not.
The words of Ambrose to this same purpose, lib. i. cap. vi. De Jacob. et Vita Beat. are many; but because they do not only fully assert the truth we contend for, but also insist briefly on most of the arguments with which in this case we plead, I shall transcribe them at large, and they are as follow:—
“Non gloriabor quia justus sum, sed gloriabor quia redemptus sum; gloriabor non quia vacuus peccatis sum, sed quia mihi remissa sunt peccata; non gloriabor quia profui, nec quia profuit mihi quisquam, sed quia pro me advocatus apud Patrem Christus est, sed quia pro me Christi sanguis effusus est … Hæredem te fecit, cohæredem Christi; Spiritum tibi adoptionis 59infudit … Sed vereris dubios vitæ anfractus et adversarii insidias, cum habeas auxilium Dei, habeas tantam ejus dignationem, ut filio proprio pro te non pepercerit? — Nihil enim excepit, qui omnium concessit authorem. Nihil est igitur quod negari posse nobis vereamur; nihil est in quo de munificentiæ divinæ diffidere perseverantiâ debeamus, cujus fuit tam diuturna et jugis ubertas, ut primo prædestinaret, deinde vocaret, et quos vocavit hos et justificaret, et quos justificaret hos et glorificaret. Poterit deserere quos tantis beneficiis usque ad præmia prosecutus est? Inter tot beneficia Dei, num metuendæ sunt aliquæ accusatoris insidiæ? sed quis audeat accusare quos electos divino cernit judicio? num Deus Pater ipse qui contulit, potest dona sua rescindere, et quos adoptione suscepit, eos a paterni affectus gratia relegare? Sed metus est ne judex severior fiat. Considera quem judicem habeas; nempe Christo dedit Pater omne judicium; poterit te ergo ille damnare, quem redemit a morte, pro quo se obtulit, cujus vitam suæ mortis mercedem esse cognoscit? nonne dicet, quaæ utilitas in sanguine meo, si damno quem ipse salvavi? Denique consideras judicem, non consideras advocatum?”
The foundation of all our glorying in the love of God and assurance of salvation he lays in the free grace of God, in redemption and justification; for the certainty of our continuance in that estate, he urges the decree of God’s predestination, the unchangeableness of his love, the complete redemption made by Christ, with his effectual intercession: all which are at large insisted upon in the ensuing treatise.
Add to him his contemporary, Chrysostom. Ser. 3, in 2 Cor. i. 21, 22: Ὁ δὲ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς σὺν ὑμῖν Χριστὸν, καὶ χρίσας ἠμᾶς Θεός· καὶ σφραγισάμενος ἡμᾶς καὶ δοὺς τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν. Of these words of the apostle he gives the ensuing exposition: Πάλιν ἀπὸ τῶν παρελθόντων τὰ μέλλοντα βεβαιοῦται· εἰ γὰρ αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς εἰς Χριστὸν (τουτέστιν ὁ μή ἐῶν ἡμᾶς παρασαλεύεσθαι ἐκ τῆς πίστεως τῆς εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν) καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ χρίσας ἡμᾶς, καὶ δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, πῶς τὰ μέλλοντα οὐ δώσει; εἰ γὰρ τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ὑποθέσεις ἔδωκε, καὶ τὴν ῥίζαν καὶ τὴν πηγὴν (οἷον τῆν ἀληθῆ περὶ αὐτοῦ γνῶσιν, τὴν τοῦ πνεύματος μετάληψιν) πῶς τὰ ἐκ τούτων οὐ δώσει; εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνα διὰ ταῦτα δίδονται, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὁ ταῦτα δοὺς καὶ ἐκεῖνα παρέξεί· καὶ εἰ ταῦτα ἐχθροῖς οὖσιν ἔδωκε, πολλᾤ μᾶλλον ἐκεῖνα φίλοις γενομένοις χαριεῖται· διὰ τοῦτο οὐδὲ Πνεύμα εἶπεν ἀπλῶς, ἀλλ’ ἀῤῥαβῶνα ὡνόμασεν, ἵνα ἀπὸ τούτου, καὶ περὶ τοῦ παντὸς θαῤῥῇς· οὐ γὰρ εἰ μὴ ἔμελλε το πᾶν διδόναι, εἵλετο ἀν τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα παρασχεῖν καὶ ἀπολέσαι εἰκῆ καὶ μάτην.
The design and aim of our establishment by the Spirit is, he tells us, that we be not shaken or moved from the faith of Christ; [he] so establisheth us that he suffers us not to depart and fall away from the faith. And that the argument which he insists on, — from what we have presently received to an assurance of abode in our condition, to the enjoyment of the full inheritance, — is not contemptible in the cause in hand, is farther manifested in the treatise itself.
And these instances may suffice for the first period of time mentioned, before the rising of the Pelagian heresy; of which, and those others of the same kind that might be produced, though they may not seem so full and expressive to the point under consideration as those which follow after, yet concerning those authors and their testimonies these two things may be asserted:—
1. That though some expressions may be gathered, from some of the writers within the space of time mentioned, that seem to allow a possibility of defection and apostasy in believers, — occasioned, all of them, by the general use of that word, and the taking the several accounts whereon men, 60both in the gospel and in common use, are so called, — yet there is no one of them that ever ascribed the perseverance of them who actually and eventually persevere to such grounds and principles as Mr Goodwin doth, and which the reader shall find at large by him insisted on in the ensuing treatise. The truth is, his maintaining of the saints’ perseverance is as bad, if not worse, than his maintaining their apostasy.
2. That I scarce know any head in religion concerning which the mind of the ancients, who wrote before it received any opposition, may be made out more clearly than we have done in this, by the instances produced and insisted on.
The Pelagian heresy began about the year 417. The first opposers thereof are reckoned up by Prosper, cap. ii. De Ingrat. The bishop of Rome, the Palestine synod in the case of Pelagius, Jerome, Atticus, bishop of Constantinople, the synod of Ephesus, [of] Sicily, and two in Afric, he mentions in order, concluding them with the second African, gathered to that end and purpose:—
“Anne alium in finem posset procedere sanctum
Concilium, cui dux Aurelius ingeniumque
Augustinus erat? quem Christi gratia cornu
Uberiore rigans, nostro lumen dedit ævo,
Accensum vero de lumine, nam cibus illi
Et vita et requies Deus est; omnisque voluptas
Unus amor Christi est; unus Christi est honor illi:
Et dum nulla sibi quærit bona, fit Deus illi
Omnia, et in sancto regnat sapientia templo.”
And because I shall not burden the reader, being now entered upon the place and time wherein very many witnesses call aloud to be heard about the difference in hand, of the first opposers of the Pelagian heresy, I shall insist only on him who is indeed “instar omnium,” and hath ever been so accounted in the controversies about the grace of God; and I shall the rather lay this weight on him, because it is evident that he spake the sense of the whole church in those days wherein he lived. This is Austin, of whom saith the same Prosper: “Noverint illi non solum Romanam ecclesiam Africanamque, sed per omnes mundi partes universos promissionis filios, cum doctrinâ, hujus viri, sicut in tota fide, ita in gratiæ confessione congruere,” Epist. ad Rusti.
And when his writings began to be carped at by the semi-Pelagians of France, Cælestine, bishop of Rome, in his Epist. ad Gallos, gives him this testimony: “Augustinum, sanctæ recordationis virum pro vita sua et moribus, in nostra communione semper habuimus, nec unquam hunc sinistræ suspicionis rumor saltem aspersit, quem tantæ scientiæ olim fuisse meminimus, ut inter magistros optimos etiam a meis prædecesseribus haberetur.” His writings also were made use of not only by Prosper, Hilary, and Fulgentius, but generally by all that engaged against the Pelagians. “Zosimus,” saith Prosper, ad Collar. cap. xli., “cum esset doctissimus, adversus libros tamen Pelagianorum beati Augustini responsa poscebat.” And Leo, Epist. ad Concil. Arausic., transcribes out of him verbatim the things that he would have confirmed and established. And in his own days, notwithstanding the differences between them, the aged and learned Jerome tells him, Epist. xciv., “Mihi decretum est te amare, te suspicere, colere, mirari, tuaque dicta, quasi mea, defendere.” Hence was that outcry in the Palestine synod upon the slighting of his authority by Pelagius “Dixit Pelagius, Quis est mihi Augustinus? Acclamabant omnes blasphemantem in episcopum, ex cujus ore Dominus universæ Africæ unitatis indulserit sanitatem, non solum a conventu illo, sed ab omni ecclesia pellendum,” 61Oros. Apologet. pp. 621, 622. So also Gelas. Biblioth. Pat. Tom. 4, Colum. 553, p. 589.
Fulgentius also, with them assembled with him at Byzacene, when they were banished Afric by Thrasimundus, in that synodical epistle, gives them this counsel: “Præ omnibus studium gerite libros S. Augustini quos ad Prosperum et Hilarium scripsit, memoratis fratribus legendos ingerere,” Epist. Synod. Byzac. Much more might be added to manifest the judgment of Austin to have been the catholic judgment of the church in those days; so that in his single testimony as great a number are included as in the testimony of any one man in the world whatever.
Now, the controversy that was between Austin and the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians about perseverance, Hilary thus expresseth in his epistle to him: “Deinde moleste ferunt,” speaking of the semi-Pelagians, “ita dividi gratiam, quæ vel tunc primo homini data est, vel nunc omnibus datur, ut ille acceperit perseverantiam, non qua fieret ut perseveraret, sed sine qua per liberum arbitrium perseverare non posset; nunc vero Sanctis in regnum per gratiam prædestinatis, non tale adjutorium perseverantiæ detur, sed tale, ut eis perseverantia ipsa donetur, non solum ut sine illo dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint. Cæterum quicquid libet donatum sit predestinatis, id posse et amittere et retinere propria voluntate contendunt.” The very state of the controversy as now under contest is most clearly expressed in this report of the difference between the semi-Pelagians and the church of God in those days. And because the whole sum of Mr Goodwin’s book is briefly comprised in the 9th and 10th chapters of Prosper, De Ingrat., I shall transcribe the 10th chapter, to present to the reader the substance and pith of that treatise, as also the state of the controversy in those days:—
― “Quam sana fides sit vestra patescat,
Gratia qua Christi populus sumus, hoc cohibetur
Limite vobiscum, et formam hanc adscribitis illi:
Ut cunctos vocet ilia quidem, invitetque; nec ullum
Præteriens, studeat communem afferre salutem
Omnibus, et totum peccato absolvere mundum;
Sed proprio quemque arbitrio parere vocanti,
Judicioque suo; mota se extendere mente
Ad lucem oblatam, quæ se non subtrahat ulli,
Sed cupidos recti juvet, illustretque volentes.
Hinc adjutoris Domini bonitate magistra
Crescere virtutum studia, ut quod quisque petendum
Mandatis didicit, jugi sectetur amore.
Esse autem edoctis istam communiter æquam
Libertatem animis, ut cursum explere beatum
Persistendo queant, finem effectumque petitum
Dante Deo, ingeniis qui nunquam desit honestis.
Sed quia non idem est cunctis vigor, et variarum
Illecebris rerum trahitur dispersa voluntas,
Sponte aliquos vitiis succumbere, qui potuissent
A lapsu revocare pedem, stabilesque manere.”
As I said, we have the sum of Mr Goodwin’s book in this declaration of the judgment of the semi-Pelagians, so also, in particular, the state of the controversy about the perseverance of the saints, as then it was debated; and I doubt not but the learned reader will easily perceive it to be no other than that which is now agitated between me and Mr Goodwin. The controversy, indeed, in the matter between Austin and the Pelagians was reduced to three heads:— As to the foundation of it, which Austin concluded to be the decree of predestination: which they denied. The impulsive cause of it he proved to be the free grace of God; and the measure or quality of that grace to be such as that whoever received it did persevere, 62it being perseverance which was given: both which they denied. About the kind of faith which temporary professors might have, and fall from it, which were never elected, there was between them no contest at all. Of his judgment, then, there were these two main heads, which he laboured to confirm:—
1. That perseverance is a gift of God, and that no man either did or could persevere in faith and obedience upon the strength of any grace received (much less of his own ability, stirred up and promoted by such considerations as Mr Goodwin makes the ground and bottom of the perseverance of all that so do), but that the whole was from his grace. Subservient to this, he maintained that no one temptation whatsoever could be overcome but by some act of grace; and that therefore perseverance must needs be a work thereof, it being an abiding in faith and obedience notwithstanding and against temptation. To this is that of his on John, Homil. 53: “Quosdam nimia voluntatis suæ fiducia extulit in superbiam, et quosdam nimia voluntatis suæ diffidentia dejecit in negligentiam: illi dicunt quid rogamus Deum ne vincamur tentatione quod in nostra est potestate? Isti dicunt, at quid conamur bene vivere, quod in Dei est potestate? O Domine, O Pater, qui es in cœlis, ne nos inferas in quamlibet istarum tentationum, sed libera nos a malo. Audiamus Dominum dicentem, ‘Rogavi pro te, Petre, ne fides deficiat tua:’ ne sic existimemus fidem nostram esse in libero arbitrio ut divino non egeat adjutorio,” etc. That, with both of these sorts of men, the way and work of the grace of God is at this day perverted and obscured, is so known to all that it needs no exemplification: some requiring no more to the conquest of temptations but men’s own rational consideration of their eternal state and condition, with the tendency of that whereto they are tempted; others turning the grace of God into wantonness, and supinely casting away all heedful regard of walking with God, being enslaved to their lusts and corruptions, under a pretence of God’s working all in all; — the latter denying themselves to be men, the former to be men corrupted. And in plain terms the Milevitan council tells us: “Si quis finxerit ideo gratiam esse necessariam ad vitanda peccata, quia facit hominem cognoscere peccata, et discernere inter peccata et non peccata, qua discretione per gratiam habita, per liberum arbitrium potest vitare; is procul,” etc. The light of grace to discern the state of things, the nature of sin, and to consider these aright, the Pelagians allowed, — which is all the bottom of that perseverance of saints which we have offered by Mr Goodwin; but upon that supply of these means, to abide and persevere in faith, to flee and avoid sin, is a thing of our own performance.
This the doctors of that council, anno 420, condemned as a Pelagian fiction, as Prosper also presents it at large, cap. xxv. against Cassianus the semi-Pelagian, and farther clears and confirms it. So Austin again, De Bono Persev., cap. ii., “Cur perseverantia ista petitur a Deo, si non datur a Deo? an et ista irrisoria petitio est, cure illud ab eo petitur, quod scitur non ipsum dare, sed ipso non dante, esse in hominis potestate? sicut irrisoria est etiam illa gratiarum actio, si ex hoc gratiæ aguntur Deo quod non donavit ipse nec fecit.” And the same argument he useth again, cap. vi. 9, much resting on Cyprian’s interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer; and cap. xxvi., he farther presseth it, as to the root and foundation of this gift of God: “Si ad liberum arbitrium hominis, quod non secundum gratiam, sed contra eam defendis, pertinere dicis, ut perseveret in bono quisquis, vel non perseveret, non Deo dante sic perseverat, sed humana voluntate faciente.” One or two instances more in this kind, amongst hundreds that offer themselves, may suffice.
63De Correptione et Gratia, cap. xiv., “Apostolus Judas, cum dicit, ‘Ei autem qui potens est,’ etc., nonne apertissime ostendit donum Dei esse perseverare in bone usque ad finem? quid enim aliud sonat ‘Qui potest conservare nos sine offensione, et constituere ante conspectum gloriæ suæ, immaculatos in lætitia,’ nisi perseverantiam bonam? quis tam insulse desipiat, ut neget perseverantiam esse donum Dei, cum dicit sanctissimus Jeremias, ‘Timorem meum dabo in corde eorum ut non recedant a me,’ ” etc. I shall add only that one place more out of the same book (cap. xii.), where both the matter and manner of the thing in hand are fully delivered: “In hoc loco miseriarum, ubi tentatio est vita hominum super terram, virtus in infirmitate perficitur; quæ virtus, nisi ‘Qui gloriatur, ut in Domino glorietur?’ Ac per hoc de ipsa perseverantia boni noluit Deus sanctos suos in viribus suis, sed in ipso gloriari, qui eis non solum dat adjutorium quod primo homini dedit, sine quo non possit perseverare si velint, sed in iis etiam operatur et velle; et quoniam non perseverabunt nisi et possint, et velint, perseverandi eis et pessibilitas et voluntas, divinæ gratiæ largitate, donatur; tantum quippe Spiritu Sancto accenditur voluntas eorum, ut ideo possint quia sic volunt, ideo sic velint, quia Deus operatur ut velint. Nam si tanta infirmitate hujus vitæ ipsis relinquitur voluntas sua, ut in adjutorio Dei, sine quo perseverare non possent, manerent si vellent, ni Deus in eis operatur ut velint, inter tot, et tantas tentationes, infirmitate sua succumberet voluntas, et ideo perseverare non possent, quia deficientes infirmitare voluntatis non vellent, aut non ita vellent, ut possent. Subventum est igitur infirmitati voluntatis humanæ, ut divina gratia indeclinabiliter, et insuperabiliter ageretur, et ideo quamvis infirma non tamen deficeret.” It is not possible that any one should deliver his sense more clearly to the whole of our present contest than this holy and learned man hath done in the words now repeated from him. A gift of God he asserts it to be (and not an act or course of our own, whereto we are prompted by certain considerations, and assisted with such outward means as are also added to us), to the real production of that effect by the efficiency of the grace of God. And for the manner of this work, it is, saith he, by the effectual working the actual will of perseverance in the continuance of our obedience, in a dispensation of grace, different from and beyond what was given to him who had a power of persevering if he would, but received not the will thereof. Now, to Adam’s perseverance there was nothing wanting but his will’s confirmation in obedience, and his actual doing so. Power he had within and means without, abundantly sufficient for that end in their kind. This, then, he asserts to be given to the saints, and to be the work of God in them, even their actual perseverance. Without this he also manifesteth, that, such is the infirmity of our wills, and such the power of our temptations, that what means soever may be supplied and left to their power, or what manlike, rational considerations soever man may engage his thoughts into, it is impossible any should persevere to the end: which Bradwardin more confirms, De Caus. Dei, lib. ii. cap. viii. Coroll., “Omne quod est naturale, et non est per se tale, si manere debeat immutatum, oportet quod innitatur continue alicui fixo per se: quare quilibet justus Deo.”
And the holy man (Austin, I mean) concludes, that this work of God being wrought in a man, his will is indeclinably and inseparably fixed so to obedience as not to fall off from God. This is the foundation that he lays of the doctrine of the perseverance of saints, that it is a gift of God, and that such a gift as he effectually and actually works in him on whom he doth bestow it; — a foundation that will by no means regularly 64bear the hay and stubble wherewith men think to build up a doctrine of perseverance, making it a fruit that may or may not be brought forth, from our own use of the means allowed for that end and purpose. And, indeed, the asserting of the perseverance of the saints in that way is as bad (if not a worse and more fearful) opposition to, and slighting of, the grace of God, as the denial of it in the way they oppose. By the latter they oppose the grace of God, by the former set up the power and strength of their own will. Thus far Austin is clearly engaged with us, that perseverance is a gift of God, that it is given by him to every one that doth persevere, and that every one to whom it is given is inseparably confirmed in grace, and shall infallibly persevere to the end.
In that earnest and long contest which that learned doctor insists upon, to prove perseverance to be the gift of God (for which he hath sufficient ground from that of the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 7, 8, “That ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.), two things he especially aimed at:— First, An opposing of such a perseverance as should not be the fruit and work of the grace of God in us, but the work and effect of our own endeavours, upon a supply of such means, motives, persuasions, and considerations, as we are or may be furnished withal. Secondly, That it is so given and bestowed, as that on whomsoever it is bestowed, he certainly hath it; that is, he doth certainly persevere. As it was heresy to that holy man to deny perseverance to be the gift of God, so it was ridiculous to him to say that that gift was given to any, and yet that they received it not; that is, that they might not persevere. “Nobis,” saith he, De Correp. et Grat., cap. xi., “qui Christo insiti sumus, talis data est gratia, ut non solum poasimus si velimus, sed etiam ut velimus in Christo perseverare.” And cap. xii., “Non solum ut sine illo dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint.”
And that which he adds afterward is most considerable, concluding from that of our Saviour, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” “Eis,” saith he, “non solum justitiam, verum etiam in illa perseverantiam dedisse monstravit. Christo enim sic eos ponente ut eant et fructum afferant, et fructus eorum maneat, quis audeat dicere ‘Forsitan non manebunt?’ ” Though they dare say so who also dare to pretend his authority for what they say! — how falsely, how unjustly, is evident to all serious observers of his mind and spirit in and about the things of the grace of God.
2. As he mentioned perseverance to be such a gift of God as indeclinably wrought in them on whom it was bestowed a will to persevere, and on that account perseverance itself (an assertion as obnoxious to the calumny and clamour of the adversaries of the doctrine under consideration as any we teach or affirm concerning it), so he farther constantly taught this gift and grace to be a fruit of predestination or election, and to be bestowed on all and only elected believers. So De Predestinatione Sanc., cap. xvii., “Hæc dona Dei dantur electis, secundum Dei propositum vocatis, in quibus est et incipere et credere, et in fide ad hujus vitæ exitum perseverare.” And afterward, cap. ix. De Bono Persev. “Ex duobus piis” (of his meaning in that word afterward), “cur huic donetur perseverantia, usque in finem, illi non donetur, inscrutabilia sunt judicia Dei: illud tamen fidelibus debet esse certissimum, hunc esse ex prædestinatis, illum non esse: ‘Nam si fuissent ex nobis’ (ait unus prædestinatorum qui e pectore Domini biberat hoc secretum) ‘mansissent utique nobiscum.’ … Quæ est ista discretio? Patent libri Dei, non avertamus aspectum, clamat Scriptura Divina, adhibeamus 65auditum, non erant ex eis, quia non erant secundum propesitum vocati: non erant in Christo electi ante mundi constitutionem, non erant in eo sortem consecuti, non erant prædestinati secundum propositum ejus qui omnia operatur.” And unto these elect, predestinate believers, he concluded still that perseverance was so given in and for Christ, so proceeding from the immutable will of God, wrought by such an efficacy of grace, that it was impossible that they should not persevere. He compares it farther with the grace that Adam received: Lib. de Correp. et Grat., cap. xii., “Primo itaque homini, qui in eo bono quo factus fuerat rectus, acceperat posse non peccare, posse non mori, posse ipsum bonum non deserere, datum est adjutorium perseverantiæ, non quo fieret ut perseveraret, sed sine quo per liberum arbitrium perseverare non posset. Nunc vero sanctis in regnum Dei per gratiam Dei prædestinatis, non tantum tale adjutorium perseverantiæ datur; sed tale, ut iis perseverantia ipsa donetur, non solum ut sine isto dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint.” And a little after: “Ipse itaque dat perseverantiam, qui stabilire potens est eos qui stant, ut perseverantissime stent.” And in the 8th chapter of the same book, expounding that of our Saviour, Luke xxii. 32, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” he manifesteth how, upon that account, it was impossible that the will of Peter should not actually be established to the end in believing. His words are, “An audebis dicere, etiam rogante Christo ne deficeret fides Petri, defecturam fuisse, si Petrus eam deficere voluisset, idque si eam usque in finem perseverare noluisset? Quasi aliud Petrus ullo modo vellet, quam pro illo Christus rogasset ut vellet: nam quis ignorat tunc fuisse perituram fidem Petri, si ea quæ fidelis erat voluntas ipsa deficeret; et permansuram, si voluntas eadem permaneret? Quando ergo oravit ne fides ejus deficeret, quid aliud rogavit, nisi ut haberet in fide liberrimam, fortissimam, invictissimam, perseverantissimam voluntatem?” And in this persuasion he had not only the consent of all the sound and orthodox doctors in his time, as was before manifested, but he is followed also by the schoolmen of all ages, and not forsaken by some of the Jesuits themselves, as we shall afterward see, when we have added that consideration of the doctrine of this learned man which hath given occasion to some to pretend his consent in opposition to that which most evidently he not only delivered but confirmed. There are in Austin, and those that either joined with him or followed immediately after him (notwithstanding the doctrine formerly insisted on, that actual perseverance is a gift of God, and that it flows from predestination, as an effect thereof, and is bestowed on all elect believers, infallibly preserving them unto the end, — wherein they assert and strongly prove the whole of what we maintain), sundry expressions, commonly urged by the adversaries of the truth in hand, granting many who were saints, believing and regenerate, to fall away and perish for ever. I need not instance in any of their sayings to this purpose; the reader knows where to find them gathered to his hand, in Vossius, Grotius, and Mr Goodwin, from them. The seeming contradiction that is amongst themselves in the delivery of this doctrine will easily admit of a reconciliation, may they be allowed the common courtesy of being interpreters of their own meaning. What weight in those days was laid upon the participation of the sacramental figures of grace, and what expressions are commonly used concerning them who had obtained that privilege, are known to all. Hence all baptized persons, continuing in the profession of the faith and communion of the church, they called, counted, esteemed truly regenerate and justified, and spake so of them. Such as these they 66constantly affirmed might fall away into everlasting destruction; but yet what their judgment was concerning their present state indeed, even then when they so termed them regenerate and believers, in respect to the sacraments of those graces, Austin in sundry places clearly delivers his thoughts, to the undeceiving of all that are willing to be free. This he especially handles in his book De Correp. et Grat., cap. ix. “Non erant,” saith he, “filii, etiam quando erant in professione et nomine filiorum; non quia justitiam simulaverunt, sed quia in ea non permanserunt.” This righteousness he esteemed not to be merely feigned and hypocritical, but rather such as might truly entitle them to the state and condition of the children of God, in the sense before expressed.
And again, “Isti cum pie vivunt dicuntur filii Dei, sed quoniam victuri sunt impie, et in eadem impietate morituri, non eos dicit filios Dei præscientia Dei.” And farther in the same chapter, “Sunt rursus quidam qui filii Dei propter susceptam temporalem gratiam dicuntur a nobis, nec sunt tamen Deo.” And again, “Non erant in numero filiornm, etiam quando erant in fide filiorum.” And, “Sicut non vere discipuli Christi, ita nec vere filii Dei fuerunt, etiam quando esse videbantur, et ira vocabantur.” He concludes, “Appellamus ergo nos et electos Christi discipulos, et Dei filios, quos regeneratos” (that is, as to the sacramental sign of that grace), “pie vivere cernimus; sed tunc vere sunt quod appellantur, si manserint in eo propter quod sic appellantur. Si autem perseverantiam non habent, id est, in eo quod cœperunt esse non manent, non vere appellantur quod appellantur, et non sunt.” As also, De Doct. Christiana, lib. iii. cap. xxxii., “Non est revera corpus Christi quod non erit cum illo in æternum.”
And these are the persons which Austin and those of the same judgment with him do grant that they may fall away, such as, upon the account of their baptismal entrance into the church, their pious, devout lives, their profession of the faith of the gospel, they called and accounted regenerate believers; of whom yet they tell you, upon a thorough search into the nature and causes of holiness, grace, and walking with God, that they would be found not to be truly and really in that state and condition that they were esteemed to be in; of which they thought this a sufficient demonstration, even because they did not persevere: which undeniably, on the other hand (with the testimonies foregoing, and the like innumerable that might be produced), evinces that their constant judgment was, that all who are truly, really, and in the sight of God, believers, ingrafted into Christ, and adopted into his family, should certainly persevere; and that all the passages usually cited out of this holy and learned man, to persuade us that he ever cast an eye towards the doctrine of the apostasy of the saints, may particularly be referred to this head, and manifested that they do not at all concern those whom he esteemed saints indeed, which is clear from the consideration of what hath been insisted on. Thus far he, of whom what were the thoughts of the church of God in the days wherein he lived hath been declared; he who hath been esteemed, amongst the ecclesiastical writers of old, to have laboured more, and to more purpose, in the doctrine of the grace of God, than all that went before him, or any that have followed after him; whose renown in the church hath been chiefly upheld and maintained upon the account of the blessed pains and labours, wherein the presence of God made him to excel, for the depressing the pride of all flesh, and the exaltation of the riches of God’s love, and efficacy of his grace in Jesus Christ, wherewith the whole church in succeeding ages hath been advantaged beyond what is easy to be expressed.
That Prosper, Hilary, Fulgentius, and the men of renown in the congregation 67of God at the end of that age, did fall in with their judgments to that which Austin had delivered, I suppose will be easily confessed. Prosper, ad cap. vii. Gal.: “Quomodo eos habeat præordinata in Christo electio? cum dubium non sit donum Dei esse perseverantiam in bono usque ad finem; quod istos, ex eo ipso quod non perseverarunt, non habuisse manifestum est.” Also, the breaking of the power and frustrating of the attempt of Pelagius by sundry doctors of the church, and synods to that end assembled (whereof Prosper gives us an account, reckoning them up in their order, and Austin before him, Epist. xlii. and xlvii., with special relation to what was done in Afric, and in the beginning of his verses, De Ingratis), with what troubles were raised and created anew to the champions of the grace of God by the writings of Cassianus, Faustus, Vincentius, the Massilienses, with some others in France, and the whole rabble of semi-Pelagians, with the fiction of Sigibert about a predestinarian heresy (whereof there was never any thing in being, no not among the Adrumentine monks, where Vossius hoped to have placed it), the council of Arles, the corruptions and falsifications of Faustus in the business of Lucidus, the impositions on Gotteschalcus, with the light given to that business from the Epistle of Florus, — have exercised the commendable endeavours of so many already that there is not the least need farther to insist upon them. What entertainment that peculiar doctrine, which I am in the consideration of, found in the following ages is that which I shall farther demonstrate.
After these was Gregory I., who, lib. i. Epist. xcix., speaks to the same purpose with them in these words: “Redemptor noster, Dei hominumque mediator, conditionis humanæ non immemor, sic imis summa conjungit, ut ipse in unitate permanens ita temporalia, occulto instinctu, pia consulens moderatione disponat, quatenus de ejus manu antiquus hostis nullatenus rapiat, quos ante secula intra sinum matris ecclesiæ adunandos esse præscivit; nam et si quisquam eorum inter quos degit, statibus motus ad tempus ut palmes titubet, radix tamen rectæ fidei, quæ ex occulto prodit, divino judicio virens manet, quæ accepto tempore fructum de se ostentare valeat, qui latebat.” This is the sum of what we contend for, — namely, that all those whom God hath predestinated to be added to the church, receiving a saving faith, though they may be shaken, yet on that account the root abides firm, their faith never utterly perisheth, but in due time brings forth accepted fruits again.
And most expressive to our purpose is that discourse of his which you have, lib. xxxiv. Moral. cap. viii. Saith he, “Aurum, quod pravis diaboli persuasionibus quasi lutum sterni potuerit, aurum ante Dei oculos nunquam fuit, qui enim seduci quandoque non reversuri possunt, quasi habitam sanctitatem ante oculos hominum videntur amittere, sed eam ante oculos Dei nunquam habuerunt.”
The exclusion of those from being true believers who may be seduced and fall away doth most eminently infer the perseverance of all them who are so.
Add unto these Œcumenius (though he be one of a later date), and these shall suffice for the period of time relating to the Pelagian controversy. Saith he, in Epist. ad Eph. cap. i. 14, Ὁ ἀῤῥαβὼν πιστοῦται τὸ ὅλον· τινὰ τοίνυν υἱσθεσίαν καὶ τὰ μύρια ἀγαθὰ πιστούμενος ὁ Θεὸς δέδωκεν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τῆς ἐπουρανίου κληρονομίας τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα. All is confirmed and ratified by the earnest of the Spirit, that is given to them that believe.
Of those that lived after the days of the forementioned (I mean all of them but the last), that I may not cloy the reader, I shall not mention 68any, until the business of divinity and the profession of it was taken up by the schoolmen and canonists; who, from a mixture of divine and human principles, framed the whole body of it anew, and gave it over into the possession of the present Romish church, moulded for the most part to the worldly, carnal interests of them on whom they had their dependency in their several generations.
But yet as there was none of those but, one way or other, was eminently conducing to the carrying on of the mystery of iniquity, by depraving, perverting, and corrupting, one truth or other of the gospel, so all of them did not in all things equally corrupt their ways, but gave some testimony more or less to some truths, as they received them from those that went before them. So fell it out in the matter of the grace of God and the corruption of the nature of man. Though some of them laboured to corrode and corrupt the ancient received doctrine thereof, so some, again, contended with all their might, in their way and by their arguments, to defend it; as is evident in the instance of Bradwardin crying out to God and man to help in the cause of God against the Pelagians in his days, in particular complaining of the great master of their divinity. So that notwithstanding all their corruptions, these ensuing principles passed currently amongst the most eminent of them as to the doctrine under consideration, which continue in credit with many of their sophistical successors to this day:—
1. That perseverance is a grace of God, bestowed according to predestination, or election, on men; that is, that God gives it to believers that are predestinated and elected.
2. That on whomsoever the grace of perseverance is bestowed, they do persevere to the end; and it is impossible in some sense that they should otherwise do.
3. That none who are not predestinate, what grace soever they may be made partakers of in this world, shall constantly continue to the end.
4. That no believer can by his own strength or power (incited or stirred up by what manlike or rational considerations soever) persevere in the faith, the grace of perseverance being a gift of God.
It is true, that, their judgments being perverted by sundry other corrupt principles, about the nature and efficacy of sacraments, with their conveyance of grace “ex opere operato,” and out of ignorance of the righteousness of God and the real work of regeneration, they generally maintain (though Bradwardin punctually expressed himself to be of another mind) that many persons not predestinate may come to believe, yet fall away and perish.
Now, the truth is, it is properly no part of the controversy under consideration, whether, or how far, and in what sense, men, by reason of the profession and participation of ordinances, with the work and effect of common grace upon them, may be said to be true believers; but the whole, upon the matter of what we plead for, is comprised in the assertions now ascribed to them: which that it is done upon sufficient grounds will be manifest by calling in some few of the most eminent of them, to speak in their own words what their thoughts were in this matter.
To bring them in, I desire that one who (though none of them) was eminent in his undertakings for a mixture of divinity and law, in those days wherein they had their eminent rise and original, may be heard; and that is Gratian, who after his manner hath collected many things to the purpose in hand. P. 2, c. 33, q. 3, De Pœnit. Dist., can. 2, “Charitas,” saith he, “est juncta Deo inseparabiliter, et unita, et in omnibus semper invicta.” 69And, “Electi quippe sic ad bonum tendunt, ut ad mala perpetranda non redeant; et, potest discursus, et mobilitas spiritus sic intelligi. In sanctorum quippe cordibus juxta quasdam virtutes semper permanet; juxta quasdam vero recessurus venit, venturus recedit: in fide etenim, et spe, et charitate, et bonis aliis, sine quibus ad cœlestem patriam non potest veniri (sicut est humilitas, castitas, justitia, atque misericordia) perfectorum corda non deserit: in prophetiæ vero virtute, doctrinæ facundia, miraculorum exhibitione, suls aliquando adest, aliquando se subtrahit.” Answering the objection of the Spirit’s departure from them on whom he is bestowed, he distinguisheth of the respects upon the account whereof he may be said so to do. “In respect of some common gifts,” saith he, “he may withdraw himself from them on whom he is bestowed; but not in respect of habitual sanctifying grace.”
Among the schoolmen, there is none of greater name and eminency, for learning, devotion, and subtilty, than our Bradwardin, who was proctor of this university in the year 1325, and obtained by general consent the title of Doctor Profundus. Lib. ii., De Causa Dei, cap. viii., this profoundly learned doctor proposes this thesis, to be confirmed in the following chapter: “Quod nullus viator, quantacunque gratia creata subnixus, solius liberi arbitrii viribus, vel etiam cure adjutorio gratiæ, possit perseverare finaliter, sine alio Dei auxilio speciali.” In the long disputation following, he disputes out of the Scriptures and ancient writers, abundantly cited to his purpose, that there is no possibility of the perseverance of any believer in the faith to the end upon such helps, considerations, and advantages, as Mr Goodwin proposeth as the only means thereof; that perseverance itself is a gift of God, without which gift and grace none can persevere. And the speciality of that grace he expresseth in the corollary wherewith he closeth the chapter, which is, “Quod nullus viator, solius liberi arbitrii, vel gratiæ viribus, aut amborum conjunctim, sine alio Dei auxilio speciali, potest perseverare per aliquod tempus omnino;” farther asserting the efficacy of special grace in and for every good work whatever. His arguments and testimonies I shall not need to recite; they are at hand to those who desire to consult them.
After the vindication of the former thesis, cap. ix., x., xi., he proposeth farther this proposition, to a right understanding of the doctrine of perseverance: “Quod perseverantia non est aliquod donum Dei creatum, a charitate, et gratia realiter differens.” And the corollary wherewith he shuts up that disputation is: “Quod nomen perseverantiæ nullam rem absolutam essentialiter significat, sed accidentaliter et relative; charitatem videlicet, sive justitiam cum respectu futuræ permansionis usque in finem, et quod non improbabiliter posset dici perseverantiam esse ipsam relationem hujus.”
After this, knowing well what conclusion would easily be inferred from these principles, — namely, That perseverance is not really distinct from faith and love, that it is such a grace and gift of God that whosoever it is bestowed upon shall certainly persevere, namely, that every one who hath received true grace, faith and love, shall certainly persevere, — he objects that to himself, and plainly grants it to be so indeed, cap. xii. And to make the matter more clear, cap. xiii., he disputes, that “Auxilium sine quo nullus perseverat, et per quod quilibet perseverat, est Spiritus Sanctus, divina bonitas et voluntas.” Every cause of bringing sinful man to God is called by them “auxilium.’ In these three, “Spiritus Sanctus, divina bonitas, et voluntas,” he compriseth the chief causes of perseverance, as I have also done in the ensuing treatise. By “divina voluntas” he intends 70God’s eternal and immutable decree, as he manifests, cap. viii., ix., whither he sends his reader; his “divina bonitas” is that free grace whereby God accepts and justifies us as his; “Spiritus Sanctus” is sanctification: so that he affirms the perseverance of the saints to consist in the stability of their acceptation with God, and continuance of their sanctification from him, upon the account of his unchangeable purposes and decrees; which is the sum of what we contend for.
And this is part of the doctrine concerning the grace of God, and his sovereignty over the wills of men, which Bradwardin in his days cried out so earnestly for the defence of to God and man against the Pelagian encroachment, which was made upon it in those days. Thus he turns himself, in the conclusion of his book, to the pope and church of Rome, with zealous earnestness, for their interposition to the determination of these controversies. “Ut os inique loquentium,” saith he, “obstruatur, flexis genibus cordis mei imploro ecclesiam, præcipue Romanam, quæ summa authoritate vigere dignoscitur, quatenus ipsa determinare dignetur, quid circa præmissas catholice sit tenendum. Non enim sine periculo in talibus erratur. Simon, dormis? exurge,” speaking to the pope, “exime gladium, amputa quæque sinistra hæreticæ pravitatis, defende et protege catholicam veritatem. Porro etsi Dominus ipse in Petri navicula dormiat, nimietate tempestatis compulsus, ipsum quoque fiducialiter excitabo, quatenus Spiritus oris sui tempestate sedata tranquillum faciat et serenum. Absit autem, ut qui in prora hujus naviculæ pervigil laborabat, jam in puppi super cervicalia dormiat, vel dormitet,” lib. iii. cap. liii.
With this earnestness, above three hundred years ago, did this profoundly learned man press the popes to a determination of these controversies against the Pelagians and their successors in his schools. The same suit hath ever since been continued by very many learned men (in every age) of the communion of the church of Rome, crying out for the papal definitive sentence against the Pelagian errors crept into their church; especially hath this outcry with supplication been renewed by the Dominican friars, ever since the Jesuits have so cunningly gilded over that Pelagian poison, and set it out as the best and most wholesome food for “holy mother” and her children. Yea, with such earnestness hath this been in the last age pursued by agents in the court of Rome, that (a congregation de auxiliis being purposely appointed) it was generally supposed one while that they would have prevailed in their suit, and have obtained a definitive sentence on their side against their adversaries. But through the just vengeance of God upon a pack of bloody, persecuting idolaters, giving them up more and more to the belief of lies, contrary almost to the expectation of all men, this very year, 1653, Pope Innocent X., who now wears the triple crown, conjured by the subtlety and dreadful interest of the Jesuits in all nations that as yet wonder after him, by a solemn bull, or papal consistorian determination, in the case of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, hath turned the scales upon his first suppliants, and cast the cause on the Pelagian side. But of that whole business elsewhere.
I shall not perplex the reader with the horrid names of Trombet, Hilcot, Bricot, Sychet, Tartaret, Brulifer, nor with their more horrid terms and expressions. Let the one Angelical Doctor [i.e., Aquinas] answer for the rest of his companions.
That this man, then (one of the great masters of the crew), abode by the principles of him before insisted on, may quickly be made evident by some few instances clearing his judgment herein.
This, in the first place, he everywhere insists on, that no habitual grace 71received, no improvement that can be made of it, by the utmost ability, diligence, and the most raised considerations of the best of men, will cause any one certainly to persevere, without the peculiar preservation of God. Of this he gives his reason, lib. iii. Contra Gent. Ca. 155, “Illud quod natura sun est variabile, ad hoc, quod figatur in uno, indiget auxilio alicujus moventis immobilis; sed liberum arbitrium etiam existentis in gratia habituali adhuc manet variabile, et flexibile a bono in malum; ergo ad hoc, quod figatur in bono et perseveret in illo, usque ad finem, indiget speciali Dei auxilio.” An argument this of the same importance with that mentioned out of Bradwardin; which, howsoever at first appearance it may seem to lie at the outskirts of the controversy in hand, yet indeed is such as, being granted, hath an influence into the whole, as hath been manifested.
And this the same author farther confirms. Saith he, pp. q. 109, a. 9, “Cum nullum agens secundum agat nisi in virtute primi, sitque caro spiritui perpetuo rebellis; non potest homo licet jam gratiam consecutus, per seipsum operari bonum, et vitare peccatum, absque novo auxilio Dei, ipsum moventis, dirigentis, et protegentis; quamvis alia habitualis gratia ad hoc ei necessaria non sit.” And the reasons he gives of this conclusion in the body of the article are considerable. This, saith he, must be so, “Primo quidem, ratione generali propter hoc, quod nulla res creata potest in quemcunque actum prodire, nisi virtute motionis divinæ.” The Pelagian self-sufficiency and exemption from dependence “in solidum” upon God, both providentially and physically as to operation, was not so freely received in the schools as afterward. “Secundo,” saith he, “ratione speciali, propter conditionem status humanæ naturæ, quæ quidem licet per gratiam sanetur, quantum ad mentem, remanet tamen in eo corruptio, et infectio quantum ad carnem, per quam servit legi peccati, ut dicitur, Rom. vii. Remanet etiam quædam ignorantiæ obscuritas in intellectu, secundum quam (ut etiam dicitur, Rom. viii. ‘quid oremus sicut oportet nescimus:’ ideo necesse est nobis, ut a Deo dirigamur et protegamur, qui omnia novit, et omnia potest.” And will not this man, think you, in his gropings after light, when darkness covered the face of the earth, and thick darkness was upon the inhabitants thereof, with this his discovery, — of the impotency of the best of the saints for perseverance upon the account of any grace received, because of the perpetual powerful rebellion of indwelling lust and corruption, and that all that do persevere are preserved by the power of God unto salvation, — rise in judgment against those who in our days, wherein the Sun of Righteousness is risen with healing under his wings, do ascribe a sufficiency unto men in themselves, upon the bottom of their rational considerations, to abide with God, or persevere to the end?
And this assertion of the Angelical Doctor is notably confirmed by Didacus Alvarez in his vindication of it from the exception of Medina, that we make use of habits when we will, and if men will make use of their habitual grace, they may persevere without relation to any after grace of God. Saith he, “Respondetur, habitibus quidem nos uti cum volumus, sed ut velimus illis uti, prærequiritur motio Dei efficax, præmovens liberum arbitrium, ut utatur habitu ad operandum, et operetur bonum, præsertim quando habitus sunt supernaturales; quia cum pertineant ad superiorem ordinem, habent specialem rationem, propter quam potentia mere naturalis non utitur eisdem habitibus, nisi speciali Dei auxilio moveatur,” Alvar. De Aux. lib. x. disput. 100. Though received graces are reckoned by him as supernatural habits, yet such as we act not by, nor with, but from new supplies from God.
Having laid down this principle, Thomas proceeds to manifest that 72there is a special grace of perseverance bestowed by God on some, and that on whomsoever it is bestowed, they certainly and infallibly persevere to the end, pp. quest. 109, a. 10, c.; and Contra Gent. lib. iii., he proves this assertion from p. 6, 1 Pet. v. 10; Ps. xvi.
But, to spare the reader, I shall give you this man’s judgment, together with one of his followers, who hath had the happiness to clear his master’s mind above any that have undertaken the maintenance of his doctrine in that part now controverted in the church of Rome; and therein I shall manifest (what I formerly proposed) what beamings and irradiations of this truth do yet glide, through that gross darkness which is spread upon the face of the Romish synagogue; — referring what I have farther to add on this head to the account which, God assisting, I shall ere long give of the present Jansenian controversies, in my considerations on Mr Biddle’s catechisms, a task by authority lately imposed on me. This is Didacus Alvarez, whose 10th book De Auxiliis treats peculiarly of this subject of perseverance. In the entrance of his disputation, he lays down the same principles with the former concerning the necessity of the peculiar grace of perseverance, to the end that any one may persevere, disp. 103.
Then, disp. 108, he farther manifests that this gift or grace of perseverance does not depend on any conditions in us, or any co-operation of our wills. His position he lays down in these words: “Donum perseverantiæ, in ratione doni perseverantiæ, et efficacia illius, nullo modo dependet effective ex libera co-operatione nostri arbitrii, sed a solo Deo, atque ab efficacia, et absoluto decreto voluntatis ejus, qui pro sua misericordia tribuit illud donum cui vult.” In the farther proof of this proposition, he manifests by clear testimonies that the contrary doctrine hereunto was that of the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, which Austin opposed in sundry treatises. And in all the arguments whereby he farther confirms it, he still presses the absurdity of making the promise of God concerning perseverance conditional, and so suspending it on any thing in and by us to be performed. And, indeed, all the acts whereby we persevere flowing, according to him, from the grace of perseverance, it cannot but be absurd to make the efficient cause in its efficiency and operation to depend upon its own effect. This also is with him ridiculous, that the grace of perseverance should be given to any and he not persevere, or be promised and yet not given; yet withal he grants, in his following conclusions, that our wills, secondarily and in dependency, do co-operate in our perseverance.
The second principle this learned schoolman insists on is, that this gift of perseverance is peculiar to the elect, or predestinate: Disput. 104, 1, Con. “Donum perseverantiæ est proprium prædestinatorum, ut nulli alteri conveniat.” And what he intends by “prædestinati,” he informs you according to the judgment of Austin and Thomas: “Nomine prædestinationis ad gloriam, solum eam prædestinationem intelligunt (Augustinus et Thomas) qua electi ordinantur efficaciter, et transmittuntur ad vitam æternam; cujus effectus sunt vocatio, justificatio, et perseverantia in gratia usque ad finem.” Not that (or such a) conditional predestination as is pendent in the air, and expectant of men’s good final deportment; but that which is the eternal, free fountain of all that grace whereof in time by Jesus Christ we are made partakers.
And in the pursuit of this proposition, he farther proves at large that the perseverance given to the saints in Christ is not a supplement of helps and advantages, whereby they may preserve it if they will, but such as causes them on whom it is bestowed certainly and actually so to do; and that, in its efficacy and operation, it cannot depend on any free co-operation 73of our wills, all the good acts tending to our perseverance being fruits of that grace which is bestowed on us, according to the absolute unchangeable decree of the will of God.
This, indeed, is common with this author and the rest of his associates (the Dominicans and present Jansenians) in these controversies, together with the residue of the Romanists, that having their judgments wrested by the abominable figments of implicit faith, and the efficacy of the sacraments of the new testament, conveying, and really exhibiting, the grace signified or sealed by them, they are enforced to grant that many may be, and are, regenerated and made true believers who are not predestinated, and that these cannot persevere, nor shall eventually be saved. Certain it is, that there is not any truth which that generation of men do receive and admit, but more or less it suffers in their hands, from that gross ignorance of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, the power whereof they are practically under. What the poor vassals and slaves will do upon the late bull of their holy father, casting them in sundry main concernments of their quarrel with their adversaries, is uncertain. Otherwise, setting aside some such deviations as the above mentioned, whereunto they are enforced by their ignorance of the grace and justification which is in Jesus Christ, there is so much of ancient candid truth, in opposition to the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, preserved and asserted in the writings of the Dominican friars, as will rise up, as I said before, in judgment against those of our days who, enjoying greater light and advantages, do yet close in with those, and are long since cursed enemies of the grace of God.
To this Dominican I shall only add the testimony of two famous Jesuits, upon whose understandings the light of this glorious truth prevailed, for an acknowledgment of it. The first of these is Bellarmine, whose disputes to this purpose being full and large, and the author in all men’s hands, shall not transcribe his assertions and arguments; but only refer the reader to his lib. ii., De Grat. et Lib. Arbit. cap. xii., “Denique ut multa alia testimonia,” etc. The other is Suarez, who delivers his thoughts succinctly upon the whole of this matter. Lib. xi. De Perpetuitat. vel Amis. Grat. cap. ii., sect. 6, saith he, “De prædestinatis verum est infallibiliter, quod gratiam finaliter seu in perpetuum non amittunt; unde postquam semel gratiam habuerant, ita reguntur et proteguntur a Deo, ut vel non cadant, vel si ceciderint resurgant; et licet sæpius cadant et resurgant, tandem aliquando ita resurgunt ut amplius non cadant.” In which few words he hath briefly comprised the sum of that which is by us contended for.
It was in my thoughts in the last place to have added the concurrent witness of all the reformed churches, with that of the most eminent divines, which have written in the defence of their concessions, but this trouble, upon second consideration, I shall spare the reader and myself; for as many other reasons lie against the prosecuting of this design, so especially the uselessness of spending time and pains for the demonstration of a thing of so evident a truth prevails with me to desist. Notwithstanding the endeavours of Mr Goodwin to wrest the words of some of the most ancient writers who laboured in the first reformation of the churches, I presume no unprejudiced person in the least measure acquainted with the system of that doctrine which, with so much pains, diligence, piety, and learning, they promoted in the world, with the clearness of their judgments in going forth to the utmost compass of their principles which they received, and their constancy to themselves in asserting of the truths they embraced, — owned by their friends and adversaries until such time as Mr Goodwin 74discovered their self-contradictions, — will scarce be moved once to question their judgments by the excerpts of Mr Goodwin, chap. xv. of his treatise; so that of this discourse this is the issue.
There remains only that I give a brief account of some concernments of the ensuing treatise, and dismiss the reader from any farther attendance in the porch or entrance thereof.
The title of the book speaks of the aim and method of it. The confutation of Mr Goodwin was but secondarily in my eye; and the best way for that I judged to consist in a full scriptural confirmation of the truth he opposed. That I chiefly intended; and therein I hope the pious reader may, through the grace of God, meet with satisfaction. In my undertaking to affirm the truth of what I assert, the thing itself first, and then the manifestation of it, were in my consideration. For the thing itself, my arguing hath been to discover the nature of it, its principles and causes, its relation to the good-will of the Father, the mediation of the Son, and dispensation of the Holy Ghost to the saints thereupon; and its use and tendency in and unto that fellowship with the Father and the Son whereunto we are called and admitted.
As to the manner of its revelation, the proper seats of it in the book of God, the occasion of the delivery thereof in several seasons, the significant expressions wherein it is set forth, and the receiving of it by them to whom it was revealed, have been diligently remarked.
In those parts of the discourse which tend to the vindication of the arguments from Scripture whereby the truth pleaded for is confirmed, of the usefulness of the thing itself contended about, etc., I have been, I hope, careful to keep my discourse from degenerating into jangling and strife of words (the usual issue of polemical writings), being not altogether ignorant of the devices of Satan, and the usual carnal attendancies of such proceedings. The weight of the truth in hand, the common interest of all the saints in their walking with God therein, sense of my own duty, and the near approach of the account which I must make of the ministration to me committed, have given bounds and limits to my whole discourse, as to the manner of handling the truth therein asserted. Writing in the common language of the nation about the common possession of the saints, the meanest and weakest as well as the wisest and the most learned, labouring in the work of Christ and his gospel, I durst not hide the understanding of what I aimed at by mingling the plain doctrine of the Scripture with metaphysical notions, expressions of art, or any pretended ornaments of wit or fancy; because I fear God. For the more sublime consideration of things, and such a way of their delivery as, depending upon the acknowledged reception of sundry arts and sciences, which the generality of Christians neither are nor need to be acquainted withal, scholars may communicate their thoughts and apprehensions unto and among themselves, and that upon the stage of the world, in that language whereunto they have consented for and to that end and purpose. That I have carefully abstained from personal reflections, scoffs, undervaluations, applications of stories and old sayings, to the provocation of the spirit of them with whom I have to do, I think not at all praiseworthy, because, upon a review of some passages in the treatise (now irrecoverable), I fear I have scarce been so careful as I am sure it was my duty to have been.
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