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Our solution is simple the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God.' It must, however, be admitted, that the class of celebrated men to whom we have referred, were better judges of the competency of reason on moral questions than the motley advocates of the different systems for reducing Christianity to the level of a physical science now, and for perfectionating the world without a renewal of nature, an absolute standard of moral truth, or an atonement. Before they dogmatize about the sufficiency of their candle, it would be but honest to put out our Christian sunlight; but if they be not able to separate the diffused light of the Christian system which has filled the earth, let them permit the only witnesses worth hearing to be heard; and whether selected from the schools of the Ptolemies, the porch of Athens, or the villas of Tusculum, before Christianity had appeared, one voice will be found everywhere-the prayer, that the gods would relieve the souls of men by a REVELATION.
While the Christian system thus supplied the greatest want of the Pagan world by an infallible standard of moral truth, and that in a way which, though it offended the prejudices of the sophist and the rhetor, was eminently suitable to all times and all types of the fallen family of man, Christianity also, in its institutions, provided for other great wants of the human soul. Till Jesus appeared, there was no centre of unity for mankind; no perfect models of attainable human excellence; no fold to separate the virtuous from the evil ; no compact between good men to bind them into one spiritual fellowship; and no body of moral teachers. By the establishment of its ministry, the Founder of the Church supplied the last desideratum; and as it was undoubtedly the constitution of an entirely new office in society, and has become subsequently much corrupted, we request the reader's attention to what it really was that Christ intended the bishop to be to the Christian Church. It would be a gross injustice to the cause of truth, however, if we were to omit to mention the fact, that Paganism, though magnificent as a state engine, or beautiful as a production of the classical imagination, had no moral teachers. Flamen and Archflamen, Naiads, Fawns, Graces, Cupids, and Fates, deities that swam with grace through the flood, or that hurled thunder sublimely upon mortals from the sky, or that drove the chariot of Aurora through a sparkling firmament, or that spanned the earth with a rainbow glittering in golden fire and vermillion waves, or that locked up the winds in a cave, or chained down rebel giants in Tartarus, or that sat in fantastic judgment over mortal deeds ;—these and gloomier or more luxuriant fancies Paganism had, according to the clime in which it was nourished. But though from the Ganges to the Tiber, with the single exception of Judæa, idolatry reigned over various races undisturbed for 2,500 years, its temples, whether merely the round and roofless towers of the sun-worship, the colossal edifices in which the Coptic mystics were most pleased to adore, or those immortal specimens of architecture that covered Greece and Italy, and which Themistocles and Alexander, Sappho and Apelles, Demosthenes and Bion, differently desecrated, a moral teacher as such, those temples never contained, and that because morality as a science was not known. Marvellously fine gushes of moral thought would sometimes appear at a banquet or at a lecture on the ecliptic, or an oration over the hero's grave; but in nothing was the imponderable darkness of the old Pagan world more vividly shown, than that there existed in it no moral teachers, no fixed ideas on the responsible portion of human actions, and, consequently, no rule for the formation of a moral public opinion.
Judaism itself appears to singular disadvantage when compared with Christianity in this particular. It had, indeed, its priesthood, and that hereditary, separated alike from the calling of the grazier, the shepherd, the merchant, or the soldier; supported by a divinely imposed tithe, and had in no way to depend on popular election. But that priesthood, though ordained in things pertaining to God,' does not appear even in the brightest periods of Jewish history to have been distinguished for its service as a moral teacher. It is difficult to believe that the Levitic order and the schools of the prophets did not furnish many powerful expositors of the Mosaic law; yet that law, which besides conserving the nationality of the Hebrew race, and keeping before it the one great idea of a Messiah, by an impressive daily ceremonial, contains little of those great moral verities which constituted the staple of the teaching of our Lord and his apostles.
When, therefore, Paul, whose gloriously capacious and spiritualized intellect seeing his co-apostles rapidly succeed to the crown of martyrdom, became anxious to provide for the permanent wants of the Church after his own decease, he could not have been guided by experience, obtained either from the Jewish Church or the Gentile world, in the foundation of the office of a bishop. He has not informed us where or when he received divine instructions on this important function of the Christian life, but we may be certain that not only he, but the other surviving apostles did receive them. All the offices of civic society are created by it, and grow up gradually into conformity with the ends for which they exist. But the will of the first Christians does not appear to have been consulted on the subject, and as Paul did always consult the wishes of the brethren, where there was no divine ordinals, we may fairly infer that the institution of the office of bishop was therefore of divine origin, and as such we regard it. Nor will we take it for granted that Timothy was the first bishop; for the Christian Church was then in a transition state, and though for a period he was located at Ephesus, as Titus in the cities of Crete, they rather appear to have been organizers of churches, and instructors of their novitiate, than bishops themselves.
In the instructions of Paul to these two spiritual associates, however, there is no hesitancy, or discretionary power given to them to adopt the bishopric to the popular taste, or to vary it with local circumstances. Paul neither asks their counsel, nor pleads his own inexperience, nor apologizes for the novelty of the office, nor meets the obvious objections to which it would be liable. He contents himself with delivering the law, and never doubts for a moment the success of its operation, or the adaptation of the bishopric to the state of all the churches for ever.
The absence of any fear lest he might err on so important an occasion, and the uniform harmony of his instructions on this subject at different times, and to different correspondents, is very striking, and it must be admitted as a strong, though collateral, proof of the inspired origin of the Christian bishopric.
What then was this bishop to do and to be? What are his qualifications, and what his authority, his honours, and his dangers ? By nothing does the gospel record vouch its heavenly pages more emphatically than the fact that in two small tractates, scarcely occupying a dozen ordinary pages, the diaconal and ministerial offices are fully explained. If they had been of human origin we should either have had no record at all, or an unsatisfactory one; either because it would have been too meagre or too verbose. If, however, any intelligent and recent convert to Christianity should take the two epistles to Timothy and that to Titus in his hand, as a guide to the true pastorate of the Christian flock, lucid as those documents are, he would be appalled with the results of his investigations. Among the voluntary churches of these islands he would find no acknowledged bishopric at all, and the name bishop rarely or never employed among them to denote the Christian teacher. If he turn to the Wesleyan societies he would find a number of teaching itinerants, but no bishop nor pastor. Should he visit a Society of the Friends he would learn that the ministerial office is repudiated, and the only teachers acknowledged are those transient personages who feel a momentary impulse to address the flock. But on a visit to the Episcopal place of worship, he would find a bishopric consist of, perhaps a thousand parishes, and the bishop himself a civil baron, a senator, a courtier, a commandant of his clerical squadron, and the all but absolute master of the clergy and laymen in his diocese, consecrating buildings and plots of ground, helping at a coronation, or blessing the colours of the army, or persecuting a godly preacher who is beloved by his flock, because he will not preach what is contradictory to everything taught in the New Testament. Upon finding out a Papal bishop, our novice beholds a man who has forsworn to be the husband of one wife,' who can have no children, but is the lord, and called the ' father' of a clique of wifehating clergy like himself; shaven in an oriental style, dressed in grotesque habiliments, blazing on high days with jewels and crimson, pretending to change bread into flesh, and to have the power to redeem souls from the realms of sorrow, and, withal, though a resident one thousand miles distant, is bound by solemn oaths to obey the Pope! Whence all this dissonance and departure from the primitive records, and why have the Congregational Churches abjured the divinely appointed name for the divinely appointed office of the Christian teacher
Since, therefore, little that is satisfactory can be gleaned from the actual modern bishopric, let us turn at once to the divine chartet, which has all the advantage of being definitive, curt, and lucid, if not systematic. Two chief wants beset all society-instruction and govern. ment; and the bishop was founded to meet them both. His principal office is that of a spiritual teacher, but distinguished from all mere
teachers by the divine requirement that he shall not only deliver verbal instructions, but teach the flock by the more vital indoctrination supplied alone in a living example of all Christian excellence. An example to the flock' was his first motto. Primitive Christianity had no professional teachers, they were all con amore; and it, probably, never entered into the thought of the apostles, that the great spirit of evil in the world would, before the lapse of many ages, neutralize the ministry of the gospel, by seducing men to overlook the first requirement to the office of personal piety of the highest order, and accepting as its substitute a professional rhetoric or a collegiate scholasticism. To this one fact may be traced the greatest proportion of the dire evils that have disgraced the history of evangelism.
The bishop was to be • the man of God, thoroughly furnished to all good works. A more comprehensive sphere could not be conceived. The artist, the poet, the merchant, and the senator of the Augustan age, had a very circumscribed orbit; but the bishop of souls was to be ever ready for every good work' that Christianity specifically designed to accomplish, or with which the gospel could co-operate, though not of its own origination. He was to offer prayer incessantly ‘for kings and all in authority,' and for all conditions of men, and to inculcate a spirit of gratitude with that of supplication. He was not to sport his own opinions, but to hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience;' not to be carried away by the love of the novel and the beautiful, but frequently to recur to fundamental truth, and mature, by putting the brethren in remembrance,' the attainments already made, rather than gorge the mind with superfluous additions that would neutralize the whole. The primitive bishop was appointed to preach the word constantly; and that not only in one place, but to do the work of an evangelist. Not, however, was he a mere preacher he was to take care of the church,' and to remember that it was the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. He was to abound in labours, and yet to take care of his health, and, if necessary, · drink a little wine for his stomach's sake.' He was to realize the allegory of the cherubim, all eyes within,' and keep a sharp introspection on the temper of his own spirit, the rise of thought and the growth of opinion, because the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all ;' in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.' It was a part of his business to foster habits of biblical study in others, and not to neglect to study himself, but to stir up the gift that is in thee,' whether native or extraditional; but his studies were not to be composed of the logomachies of the rhetor, the raving similitudes of the visionary, or the bootless pedantry of the Jewish antiquary. He was to save souls who were hourly thronging the passes between time and eternity, and there was no time to spare. The world had slept out the morning of its existence, and Jehovah had tolerated its somnolence; but now he commanded men everywhere to repent;' and the bishop was the herald that carried the flag of truce from heaven through the world, and summoned the heartbroken hordes of hostile races to the fellowship of the gospel. The bishop was re
minded that he would not live for ever; and it was, therefore, his duty, after having held fast the form of sound words, and nourished the Church, to provide for the perpetuity of the pastorate. The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also ;' but, in the same breath, he was forbidden either to employ a novice, or * to lay hands suddenly' on any.
Such were the labours assigned to the first Christian bishop; and it is easy to discern the purely spiritual range of his functions. No provision is made for his sharing in the feats of a camp, or the intrigues of a court. It never entered the mind of the apostle, that men would arise who would arrogate the sole right of being considered the successors of himself and his colleagues, and that they would not only. deny the Lord that redeemed them,' but spend their lives in a series of pranks more allied to the snake-charmers of Parthia, or the mumbling haruspices of the Pontine. Of tithes and commendams, congés d'elire and enthronizations, church courts and canonical laws, liturgic forms and the rights of presentation, patronage, rubric, ordination, licences, the proctor's power, the surrogate, the dean and chapter, and the synodals, there is not only no mention whatever in the only document that can authorize the existence of a bishop, but no implication, however slight, from which a warrant for such outrageous violations of Christian verity could be concocted.
The qualifications of the bishop are equally remarkable for spiritual simplicity, and are in admirable harmony with his employment. Those qualifications are threefold—civic, mental, and religious. Of the first class of pre-requisites for the episcopal character, Paul enjoined that the bishop should be a married man, of courteous manners, of good reputation in his social connexions; and neither a demagogue, a pugilist, nor a gourmand. Very curious discoveries would await him who should inquire why the last three qualities annulled all other pretensions to the dignity of the spiritual office. Of mental qualifications, Paul demanded that the bishops should be apt to teach, patient, possess the power of self-control, be a strenuous student, the master of a model family for its good government, hospitable, and free from the deadliest of the mortal vices—covetousness. The spiritual attributes indispensable to the episcopal office, according to this apostle, were, that its occupant should be faithful to the trust of the gospel, stedfast in doctrine, and a constant preacher; that his piety should be in a state of manifest growth, and that he should be a lover of good men. Probably the first reflection that this group of qualifications would suggest to almost any ordinary reader is, its seeming deficiency. Under each head the apostle seems to have exacted so few things, that it is difficult to avoid the feeling that he must have forgotten something. Let the reader, however, attempt to point out the imaginary omissions, and he will at once learn that he is dealing with a divine document, which, though apparently simple, has shown its superhuman wisdom by concealing every requisite for the spiritual episcopate in a few vital ideas.
In what proportions the gubernative and the teaching elements at