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A30625 A treatise of church-government occasion'd by some letters lately printed concerning the same subject / by Robert Burscough ... Burscough, Robert, 1651-1709. 1692 (1692) Wing B6137; ESTC R2297 142,067 330

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well enough without them both so long as it shall be Christian it being now too late to try Experiments of new Models and to establish such Forms of Government as in the best Ages were never heard of in the World When I had enquir'd into the Original of Church-Government and shew'd that as it came out of the hands of Christ and his Apostles and remain'd in the Primitive Times it was in the Nature of it Spiritual and in Form Episcopal I had thoughts to discourse particularly of the Exercise of it in the Administration of Discipline and the Ordination of Ministers as also of the Extent of a Bishops Authority over many Congregations and of the Power of the Church in a Christian State and then to make some Remarks on that Mystery of Iniquity that has been working amongst Bigotted Papists and others in opposition to Episcopacy But being interrupted by many Avocations and not being willing to swell this Volume into too great a Bulk I have reserv'd those things with some others that may incidentally be consider'd for a second Part of this Treatise I doubt not but some will be ready to say that it had been much better to have let the whole Work alone For Now they think it is not a Time for Controversies I should think so too and would our Adversaries be of the same mind and not drag us into the Press by their Importunity But it may seem a little Unreasonable that a Truce should be maintain'd only on one side And I cannot imagine that it is a time for us to lye open to Acts of Hostility and not a time to guard our selves from them or that it is a time to cast reproach on an Apostolical Constitution of Government and not a time to defend it I rather think that it is High time to appear in vindication of it and that we cannot be unconcern'd Spectators of the Diligence with which others endeavour to promote the Interest of their several Parties unless we will declare to the World that we are not influenced by any due sense of Religion Indeed if we are only in the Communion of the Church by Law establish'd at certain seasons and with design to destroy it or to serve a Turn against it Then it is not strange if we cannot endure to hear any thing in defence of it But what is most astonishing is that persons should be found bearing the Name of Christian and carrying on the works of Darkness and Treachery of Avarice and Ambition in the most Solemn Acts of Worship and the most Sacred Rites of our Holy Religion Yet is the number of them considerable and because it may not be fit to pass by them without notice I shall here produce some part of the Charge against them as it is recited and address'd to them by a Late Writer There are some things says he that I will but lightly touch though others of contrary sentiment will lay on load One is at which I am not a little abash'd that though you according to your declar'd Principles and Ordinary Practice are Nonconformists and Dissenters yet upon occasion and to get into Place and Office of Honor or Profit you will and can take any manner of Tests that have of late been impos'd also that you can on such occasions take the Sacrament according to the Form and Way of the Church of England though you never did before nor perhaps will ever do the same again except on the like occasion and although the making and forming of these Tests and the taking of the Sacrament were intended and done on purpose to keep you and such as you out of Office yet by these ways they have not been able to exclude you and they think that nothing though never so contrary to your Principles can be devis'd and made to keep you out or to hold you in but that you will break all Bounds and leap over all Hedges so that they are at a loss what to do with you c. My Author who relates this to them as an Objection of their Adversaries is himself a Dissenter yet protests that he knows not how to answer it in their behalf with truth and honesty He confesses that they make use of the same Artifices as the Jesuits do in such cases and he knows nothing he tells them that will more render them in the eyes of all as men of flexible and profligate Consciences He also laments their Hypocrisie and breaks out into this Exclamation O! the horrible scandal that comes from hence c. But I suppose the Example of these men hath nothing in it that may prevail with us to abandon the Vindication of a good Cause their Practices being such as if we have any thing of Sincerity we cannot think on without Pain and Detestation ERRATA PAge 5. line 15. read averse p. 6. l. 17. r. to bind and ab p. 11. l. 6. marg r. 18. p. 13. l. 29. r. the intention of the person p. 39. l. 10. marg r. c. 4. p. 44. l. 8. r. such have p. 49. l. 11. after High Priest add And yet he could not have been constituted High Priest p. 54. l. 4. marg r. Successores reliquit p. 54. l. 11. marg r. 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 p. 63. l. 13. r. of all Churches l. 17. r. presided p. 73. l. 8. r. munere annos p. 80. l. 27. r. continuance l. 28. dele might p. 88. l. 2 3. marg r. Apostoli p. 102. l. 26. r. and as l. 28. r. more than p. 118. l. 1. r. of an p. 143. l. 6. r. were written p. 162. l. 26. s this note should have been placed after City l. 24. and another added here to refer to the words of Clemens p. 170. l. 17. marg r. c. 4. p. 179. l. 5. marg r. Ep. 54. p. 200. l. 2. marg r. lib. 9. c. 5. p. 208. l. 14. marg r. c. 32. p. 218. l. 7. marg r. obnitente p. 260. l. 12. r. is mop't THE CONTENTS OF THE CHAPTERS Chap. 1. JEsus Christ the Founder of Church-Government The Apostles the first Officers that he constituted To them he gave no Temporal Authority yet did communicate to them that which is Spiritual p. 1 Chap. 2. The Apostles stood related amongst themselves as Equals but to other Ecclesiastical Officers particularly to the Seventy Disciples and to Presbyters as Superiors they were Bishops both in Title Authority p. 25 Chap. 3. If the Apostles were Bishops Episcopacy is of a Divine Original The Objection against this that the Apostles were Extraordinary Officers consider'd p. 34 Chap. 4. S. James was an Apostle and yet he was Bishop of Jerusalem and constantly resided there p. 60 Chap. 5. The Apostolate differs not in substance from the Office of a Bishop It was design'd for continuance p. 78 Chap. 6. The Title and Office of Apostles were communicated to many besides the Twelve p. 90 Chap. 7. Apostolical Authority was communicated to Timothy
these to the People And thus when the abolishing of the Episcopal Government with all its dependences Root and Branch was in agitation Mr. Nathaniel Fiennes objected against the Bishops That by their Power over other Ministers who had an influence upon the People they might mould them both according to their own wills and having put out our eyes says he as the Philistins did Sampson 's they may afterwards make us grind and reduce us to what slavery they please A dreadful thing indeed had there been any foundation for the apprehension of it But if such Fantômes as may at any time be rais'd by Art or the Strength of Imagination and have nothing in them of Substance or Reality be sufficient to disquiet us we are like to enjoy but little rest And to come nearer to the purpose If a meer possibility of doing hurt be so dangerous and formidable to Princes This would be enough to create in them frightful Idea's of their Guards and their Armies and of all that are about them and render them at last like Pashur a Terror to themselves He could not but see that a meer Capacity in the Clergy of conveying Malignity was not sufficient to make them Enemies to the State and he pretends that they have been actually guilty of a most notorious defection from their Duty to the Civil Magistrate and that it has been found by Experience not only that there never was but that there never can be in the World a thing more dangerous to any Government than the National Hierarchy An Accusation that sounds very harsh and runs high not against a few single persons only but a considerable Society But he hath not told us in what Instance they were liable to it or when it was they became so criminal It is certain that in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth they could not deserve so hateful a Character For Jealous as She was of her Glory She could not find that it was eclips'd by them But She did perceive how necessary it was to check and repress the Attempts against them and was sensible as Mr. Camden acquaints us that her own Authority was struck at through the sides of the Bishops As this Admirable Princess penetrated into the Secrets of Foreign Courts so She perfectly understood the Interests of her own Kingdoms And if any would know what She thought of some fiery Zealots of those Times who spent their Heats in opposing Episcopacy and the Liturgy it may be seen in Serjeant Puckering's Speech recorded by Sr. William Dugdale for it is made by Her Command Her Successor King James could never discover that nothing could be more dangerous to him than the National Hierarchy He always believ'd that Episcopacy was of Divine Institution and as he found it establish'd here to his great satisfaction so he never saw cause to repent of his defence of it and the Privileges annex'd to it How well he approv'd the Constitution of the Church of England may appear from hence that in his Speech in the Star-Chamber he affirm'd That of any Church that ever he read or knew of present or past he thought in his Conscience This was the most pure and nearest the Primitive and Apostolical Church in Doctrine and Discipline and the sureliest founded on the Word of God of any Church in Christendom At the same time he complain'd of the Contempt that was cast on a Church so Reform'd and the Governours thereof and looking on it as a sign of Impending Judgments he says God will not bless us and our Laws if we do not reverence and obey Gods Law which cannot be except the Interpreters of it be respected and reverenced Such a regard He had for them from a Principle of Religion and their Fidelity to Him was answerable to it and contributed not a little to the Safety of his Person the Support of the Throne and the Welfare of the Nation But as for the many Dangers to which he was expos'd they arose from other Quarters They either proceeded from the Conspiracies of Papists whose Principles he examin'd and confuted that neither the Subversion of States nor the Murthers of Kings should have free passage in the World for want of timely Advertisement or from the Practices of another sort of persons whom he calls the very Pests in the Church and Common-wealth and by whom as he declares to all Christian Monarchs Free Princes and States he was persecuted not from his Birth only but four Months before his Birth In the Reign of King Charles the First the Clergy were not wanting in their demonstrations of Loyalty as we all know and they felt Yet I grant that some had discours'd before his Majesty that Episcopacy as claim'd and exercis'd within this Realm was not a little derogatory to the Regal Authority as well in the Point of Supremacy as Prerogative in the one by claiming the Function as by a Divine Right in the other by exercising the Jurisdiction in their own Names But on that occasion He told Dr. Sanderson that he did not believe the Church-Government as by Law establish'd was in either of the aforesaid respects or any other way prejudicial to his Crown Nevertheless he requir'd that Learned Man from whom I borrow'd this Relation to draw up an Answer to those two Objections for the satisfaction of others which he did accordingly And I shall only crave leave to transcribe from him the following words which he uses near the Conclusion of his Treatise By this time says he I doubt not all that are not wilfully blind do see and understand by sad experience that it had been far better both with King and Kingdom than now it is or is like to be in haste if the Enemies of Episcopacy had meant no worse to the King and his Crown than the Bishops and those that favour'd them did I shall not further exercise your patience in going about to prove that the Clergy were faithful to the Crown in the Reign of King Charles the Second You may well enough remember what King James the Second acknowledged that the Church of England had been eminently Loyal in the defence of his Father and support of his Brother in the worst of Times But that our Church-men have since revolted from their Principles which were then said to be for Monarchy I do not understand Nor was our Author willing in plain terms to inform us when it was that they became such Examples of Malignity lest the Calumny might easily be detected Yet Obscure as he is he hath left us a Key to his meaning for he intimates that they have been found to be dangerous by fresh experience when they were not in the Measures and Interests of the Government respecting doubtless the late Times before the great Revolution And so the Secret comes out which was at the bottom and rais'd his Indignation In the Opinion you see of this Gentleman the Clergy were
must always use the words of Scripture and no other in treating of Religious or Ecclesiastical Affairs all Translations of it ought to be rejected It should be read to the People only in the Original and Sermons should be made to them in Greek and Hebrew which I suppose would not be much for their Edification You farther urge that Timothy could not be Bishop of Ephesus because the stay he made there was only upon the desire of the Apostle and did not arise from the duty of his place But what if he first took on him the peculiar Charge of the Church of Ephesus immediately after S. Paul besought him to remain there could he not be a Bishop of it unless he was under an antecedent obligation to that Residence or if he did it before which is improbable might he not be exhorted to the performance of a thing which was incumbent on him by his Office The Apostle you know beseeches the Romans to present their Bodies a living Sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God He beseeches the Corinthians to speak the same thing He beseeches the Thessalonians to walk worthy of God and Buodias and Syntiche to be of the same mind in the Lord And from these instances it is manifest that things may be duties on another account when he makes them the matter of his Exhortation You fancy however that Timothy could be no standing Officer at Ephesus because as you tell me his stay and business there are limited to the Apostles return for which you quote 1 Tim. 1.3 compar'd with Chap. 3. v. 14.15 Chap. 4. v. 13. And this gives me occasion to shew 1. That where S. Paul acquaints Timothy with his hopes to see him at Ephesus he speaks as under some uncertainty for being acted by the Holy Ghost says Theoophylact he knew not whither that would carry him Theodoret observes that however the Spirit reveal'd to the Divine Prophets and Apostles whatever was expedient yet did they not foresee all things And it was as consistent with the Dignity of S. Paul not certainly to foresee whether he should visit Timothy or not as to be doubtful concerning the time of his coming when he had this in his hopes These things says he write I unto thee hoping to come unto thee shortly But if I tarry long that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thy self in the house of God Some necessary cause might detain him besides his expectation and it doth not appear that he took any Journey to Ephesus after the writing of this Epistle 2. When he says Till I come give attendance to reading to exhortation to doctrine This does not signifie that if he did come to Timothy his attendance on these things must then cease or his work be at an end But the Apostle might think by such an admonition to excite his diligence when he was absent from him or else he might hereby intimate that when he saw him he would communicate to him farther Instructions 3. When the second Epistle was sent to Timothy he was neither remov'd from his Authority nor the place where he resided when the first was written For in several passages of both Epistles the same Rules of Discipline are given him He is advis'd in both to avoid the same Errors and Miscarriages and warn'd against the same persons Hymeneus and Alexander are mention'd in both under marks of Infamy and this last is that Alexander who was drawn out by the multitude when the Tumult was at Ephesus Acts 19.33 'T is likewise observable that in the second Epistle to Timothy Chap. 4. v. 19. the Apostle salutes Prisca and Aquila whom he left formerly at Ephesus Acts 18.19 He also salutes the houshold of Onesiphorus who ministred unto him whilst he was at Ephesus as Timothy knew very well 2. Tim. 1.18 Yet says Smectymnuus to whom you refer me Paul was so far from setling Timothy at Ephesus that he rather continually sent him up and down for which they quote 1 Thess 3.1 2. Acts 18.5 19.22 20.4 You also tell me that we find Timothy as an Itinerant Officer often going from place to place upon occasion and from hence you would infer that he was not a Bishop But there is no sufficient ground for any such Consequence as may appear if it be consider'd 1. That Presbyters and Deacons were sometimes engaged in Travels and that without any loss of their Character Philip was appointed at Jerusalem to serve tables yet he did not relinquish his Office but remain'd one of the Seven when he went down to Samaria and when he was at Caesarea And I know nothing in Scripture that confines Bishops perpetually within their own Dioceses or Limits their absence from them to a certain number of Days or Miles Ordinarily indeed they are obliged to reside where their peculiar Charge is yet great occasions and their care for the publick good may sometimes call them thence And diligent as they ought to be to instruct and govern that part of the Church which is assign'd to them they may not forget the relation they bear to the whole Primis Ecclesiae temporibus says a Learned Man omnes Episcopi praeter peculiarem curam propriae sibi Ecclesiae in solidum sibi commissam ut loquitur Cyprianus etiam universam suo quodam modo curabant These are the words of Casaubon and Alstedius was so affected with them that he hath transcribed them into his Supplement of Chamier's Panstratia and about two hundred lines more verbatim all very near together without any mention of the Author being willing it seems that they should pass for his own 2. The Journeys mention'd in the Smectymnuan Objection were taken before Timothy was requested to remain at Ephesus as may be gather'd from hence that S. Paul left him there when he went into Macedonia But this could not be the first time of his going thither for then Timothy was a Companion of his Travels and 't is probable that he had not been yet at Ephesus Neither was it the second time for he had then sent Timothy before him into Macedonia where afterwards they were both together Nor yet the third for then to avoid the Conspiracy of the Jews he return'd in great haste from Achaia to Macedonia and departing thence Timothy who waited for him at Troas attended on him to Jerusalem And from these reasons which I have briefly mention'd but which Bishop Pearson hath fully illustrated and confirm'd we may conclude that Timothy was not desir'd by S. Paul to remain at Ephesus before this Apostle was brought to Rome nor till after he had written his Epistles to the Romans Corinthians Philippians Colossians Thessalonians Philemon and the Hebrews What account therefore soever of the Travels of Timothy may be collected from any of those Epistles or the Acts of the Apostles it
to the Apostles so after their example they stood related amongst themselves as Equals but to Presbyters as Superiors in Office and Authority 1. They stood related amongst themselves as Equals According to Cyprian every one of them in his own Diocese was a Judge in Christs stead And says that Father None of us makes himself a Bishop of Bishops or by a Tyrannical terror compells his Collegues into a necessity of obedience This he spake in a Council at Carthage and with reflection probably on Stephen Bishop of Rome who injuriously invaded the Rights and Liberties of his Brethren 'T is true some Bishops were distinguish'd from others by a Primacy of Order and had the chief direction of Ecclesiastical Affairs When Synods were call'd they presided in them and for this they had the example of S. James in the Council of Jerusalem But their Primacy depended on the consent of other Bishops and was mutable It did not render them Judges of the rest within their several Provinces nor might they condemn any of them by their own Sentence without the Suffrages of their Collegues 2. In the purest Ages after the Apostles the Bishops stood related to Presbyters as Superiors And in this it is that our Controversie is chiefly concern'd I shall therefore prove it more largely and for this purpose I shall not only serve my self of such passages of Ancient Writers as describe the Office or Authority of Bishops but others also that only mention them as an Order distinct from Priests For if they were so there can be no question to which of them the Supremacy did belong I begin with the Testimony of S. Ignatius who says in his Epistle to the Philadelphians that he cried with a loud voice Attend to the Bishop and to the Presbytery and to the Deacons He instructs the Ephesians to respect the Bishop as the Lord that sent him And to the Smyrnaeans he declares that in things relating to the Church none ought to act without the Bishop that the Eucharist is then valid when it is perform'd under his Authority or by his permission without which he says it is not lawful to Baptize or celebrate the Feasts of Love So clearly does he assert the Prerogatives of Episcopacy What I have cited from Ignatius carries the greater weight with it because as Chrysostom informs us he was conversant with the Apostles and instructed by them He was a person of so much Sanctity and Zeal that he was willing to endure all the torments that the Devil could inflict that he might be with Christ and thought it more desirable to be torn in pieces by wild Beasts for his sake than to be Emperor of the World Having had the advantages of such an Education and being so wonderfully inflam'd with the love of Jesus he cannot be thought to have corrupted the Church nor had he time to accomplish it had he design'd a thing so detestable For he did not long survive S. John whose Disciple he was He suffer'd death under the Emperor Trajan as Simeon also did and probably both receiv'd the Crown of Martyrdom the same year If an Author so Ancient and Venerable had only told us that the Government of the Church in his time was Episcopal this might have signified much But he does not only relate it as matter of Fact that there were Bishops He shews that Obedience was due to them as the Supreme Pastours and as the Representatives and Ambassadours of Christ And because it was suspected that his asserting their Authority had no higher cause than a prudential foresight of the Divisions which some were about to make he calls him to witness for whom he was in bonds that it proceeded from the Spirit of God And this Protestation being made at a time when miraculous inspirations were frequent there is not the least ground to question his veracity The truth is the Epistles of this Admirable man afford such plain evidence for Episcopacy that this has been the foundation of all the quarrels against them and particularly it was the cause as Grotius informs us why they were rejected by Blondel tho in the Florentino Copy they were free from those things for which they had before been suspected by the Learned The famous Isaac Vossius who publish'd them from that Copy tells us that every time he read them over they presented him with fresh Arguments of their Exellence and of their being Genuine and this will not appear strange to any person that peruses them with care and without prejudice But if you take them to be spurious you may try your skill in answering what has been said by Dr. Pearson and others in their vindication and if you succeed in that attempt I pray let us know what grounds of certainty you have that there are any Books of the Antiquity to which they pretend now extant in the Christian world To S. Ignatius may be added his Cotemporaries Philo and Agathopus or whoever were the Writers of the Acts of his Martyrdom They attended on him in his journey from Syria to Rome at which time they tell us the Churches and Cities of Asia did honour the Saint by their Bishops Priests and Deacons And they deserve the more credit as being Eye-witnesses of what they relate Not long after that time the Emperor Hadrian writ an Epistle to Servianus which was preserv'd by Phlegon and transcrib'd from him by Flavius Vopiscus and in that there occurs a passage from whence it is manifest that Bishops were then esteem'd of a different Rank from Presbyters and that the distinction between them was obvious to the very Heathen But you are much surpriz'd you say at my citation of this Epistle of Hadrian for certainly it appears by it that Hadrian had but little acquaintance with the Egyptian Christians and then his Authority is of as little moment or else these Christians were of the worst of men for he represents them as well as the other inhabitants of Egypt to be a most seditious vain and most injurious sort of men and particularly says that those that worship Serapis were Christians and that the Bishops of Christ were devoted unto Serapis He adds that the very Patriarch coming into Egypt was constrain'd of some to worship Serapis and of some to worship Christ Was ever any thing more virulently said of Christians or indeed more mistakingly c. These are your words and they seem an effect of the surprize you speak of rather than any sedate thoughts For to begin where you leave off that I may remove out of the way what is little to our purpose 1. You suppose that the Patriarch mention'd by Hadrian was a Christian Whereas there was not then in the World any Ecclesiastical Officer who did bear that title Eutychius indeed informs us that there were Patriarchs of Alexandria but this was an Argument of his ignorance unless the Apology which the Learned and