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not so, we may safely conclude that a Bishop of an English or Irish diocese bears no sort of resemblance to an Episcopus described by Paul.
“ Now, I have made these remarks prefatory to a closer inquiry on the subject, that you may not be misled by mere words; for so easily are some persons perplexed by words and letters, that, according to their mode of reasoning, a single phrase is quite sufficient to make them admit a falsehood as an indisputable and established truth. And on this very topic there may
be found multitudes of unsound logicians, who, because they find the word Bishop in the English Bible, and see a man called a Bishop sitting in the House of Lords, immediately jump to the conclusion that the Church of England is a Scriptural Church, to the solace and strengthening of their most frivolous faith.
“ As, however, there is, as we have seen, an Episcopus in Scripture, what is such an officer amongst Christians ? He is the same as Presbyter, an elder, an overseer, a person in whom the Church has reposed confidence, according to judgment formed by observation, and ratified by election. The Church saw in their Elders or Bishops signs of sanctification through the operation of the Holy Spirit, and such were set apart by solemn
prayer to the charge of the flock. There were many, that is, there was a plurality of such persons at Philippi. Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ
Jesus, which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. What can the Episcopalians, who would portion out salvation into dioceses, make of these many bishops at Philippi? Half-a-dozen, perhaps, or ten, or a dozen ‘Bishops' all in one town! How can diocesan Episcopality be reconciled with the state of the Church at Philippi as made manifest by this address ? The truth is often discovered by a very short sentence, and in this one text, without going any farther, there is quite enough for us to ascertain that the Church of England rests on Popery and not on the Scriptures.
“Scott, an Episcopalian, in commenting on this passage, has the candour to make the following remarks: Paul addressed himself to the Saints at Philippi with the bishops and deacons : hence we learn that the distinction between presbyters and deacons was not then generally established, but that the pastors of the Church were distinguished from the deacons who managed the secular matters of the charities of the Church.' This, in other words, is acknowledging that the three orders of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon were not then invented ; that diocesan Episcopacy, which is the dominion of one Bishop over many, was unknown, but that the Churches were managed much as Independent Churches now are, by pastors and deacons. Scott goes on to say, “Much labour and learning have indeed been employed to set aside this conclusion, but
with little success, even by the allowance of decided Episcopalians.' Why have this party brought labour and learning to bear against the direct testimony of the Scriptures? Why have these erudite and laborious persons thus endeavoured to put dark for light, and to pervert the plain meaning of words ? Is it not to raise a stumbling block in the path of Christians, and to make them believe a lie; they in their consciences knowing all the time that their system is indeed a lie, and that it requires ingenuity and management to make it
otherwise ? (In Acts xx. 18—27.) The Apostle Paul being at Miletus, sent for the Elders or Bishops of the Church of Ephesus; ‘he called the Elders of the Church,' and he said to them (28), “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you BISHOPS, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.' This passage is of great importance, because the way in which it has been managed by our translators renders it very suspicious that the word of God has been, by design, made to episcopize, and that the whole truth has not been allowed to appear. To understand this perfectly, you will observe that the translators in this text have rendered Episcopus • Overseer; and the reason of this management is obvious, for had they rendered Episcopus in this text · Bishop,' then behold ! it would have ap
peared that the Elders or Presbyters of the Church of Ephesus were Bishops, and consequently that the office of Elder and Bishop were the same, whereby the whole dream about the three degrees would have been dissipated. We take the text, however, as it stands, and not as the translators pervert it, and by this passage we know that the Holy Ghost had made the Elders or Presbyters of the Church of Ephesus Bishops,' and that their duty was to feed the Church and to take care of it, which is all that a diocesan Bishop can do, and much more than many of them ever have done.
“ Before we quit this passage, we will deduce from it the following argument; 1. Either these Elders here spoken of were Elders only and not Bishops ; 2. Or Bishops only and not Elders; 3. Or, which we plead, and what the text affirms, the same persons were Elders and Bishops. Now if the first be asserted, then there was no Bishop at Ephesus, because the Elders had the oversight of the flock, and no Bishop came to meet Paul. If the second, then there were no Elders at all at Ephesus, which is a strange interpretation of the words that Paul 'called to him the Elders of the Church. If the third be granted, which indeed is inevitable, then it is an extinguisher for the lovers of the three degrees, and proves that an Elder was called an overseer because he had oversight of the flock, and that we have so managed the
overseer' by fraudulent translations as to make thereby an overseer a Bishop, and a Bishop a priest with a mitre on his head; so that the minds of thousands are thereby deceived, and led to pay adoration to this idol of man's hands.
Again : Peter writes to the Elders of the Church that they should feed the flock, (1 Peter, v. 1-3,) taking the oversight, or exercising the office and functions of a Bishop over them, ET LOKOT OVVTEC, and that, not as lords, but as samples (of humility, obedience, and holiness) to the whole flock. On this passage good Mr. Scott the commentator makes the following remarks * This must be allowed a decisive testimony that no express distinction between Presbyters and Bishops was at that time, when the Apostle wrote, established in the Church.' At every turn, therefore, do we find the Successionists and the Trigradists discomfited by the Scriptures; there is nothing to help their Popish theory; and though there is indeed an Episcopus or Bishop in Scripture, yet he is quite another thing from an English or Irish prelate : for a prelate is an arch-pastor, or a lord over many score churches in his diocese, for which there is no more authority in Scripture than there is for an arch-prophet, or an arch-deacon, an archgravedigger, or an arch-baptist.
“Now it is well known by those who have studied ecclesiastical history that the identity of Bishops and Presbyters is either asserted by some