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the world, and I among those, who nothing admire the idol of a bishopric, and hold that it wants so much to be a blessing, as that I deem it the merest, the falsest, the most unfortunate gift of fortune; and were the punishment and misery of being a Bishop to be terminated only in the person, and did not extend to the affliction of the whole diocese, if I could wish anything in the bitterness of
my soul to an enemy, I should wish him the biggest and fattest bishopric."
&c. &c. &c.
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
The highest dignitaries in the Church Establishment, namely, the Archbishops, must share in. the same commendation with the minor officials; that their offices are not of Apostolical institution, and were utterly unknown in the first century.
This is so generally conceded, that hardly any clergyman, however furious his prejudices, could now be found to deny it: nothing but a spirit of desperate lying could tempt any churchman to say that the offices of Archbishop, Archdeacon, Dean, Prebend, Canon, Chancellor, Subdean, Vicar Choral, Grand Vicar, Rural Dean, Residentiary, Rector, Vicar, or Curate, were instituted in the Apostolical age.
Many contend that the three orders, Bishop, Priest, and Deacon, are Apostolical and Scriptural; but no one is hardy enough to put in the
; same plea for the above-named ecclesiastical offices. Now this consideration alone ought to make a churchman ponder deeply on the strange state of that church to which he belongs, and which is thus, from the highest offices down to the
lowest, ruled by a set of men whose titles and prerogatives are of a spurious and superstitious origin.
The title “ Metropolitan," that title which helps to swell out the high-sounding additions of our Archbishops, does not occur till mentioned by the Council of Nice. The Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451, conferred the honour of the metropolitan dignity on its Bishop; and from that time the Bishop of Chalcedon styled himself Archbishop of Bithynia. The Church in those days was mainly occupied in increasing the power of the Clergy; and, therefore, gladly embraced this new “ Dukedom” of the clerical aristocracy : the title of Archbishop became a general favourite, and was admitted in various parts of the world where the bastard Christianity of that age prevailed. In Ireland there are four Archbishops, in France a much larger number, and so in other parts of Christendom. And yet it is to an Archbishop,“ to the Metropolitan See,” that all our Bishops swear obedience.
As for the foolish office of Archdeacon, it also sprung up in those dark times; but he that held it was chosen by the Deacons : so says Jerome. “ Diaconi elegant de se, quem industrium noverint, et Archidiaconum vocent.”
The Popish Council of Trent, which showed a particular liking for any institution not to be found in Scripture, called the Archdeacon the eye of the Bishop
There was another officer called Arch-Presbyter, considered one step below the Archdeacon ; and this office was by election of the Presbyters. The Church of England has let slip this precious gem, as indeed it has another office, which might have been highly serviceable by judicious management in these days of opposition and dissent, -I mean the Archdeaconess; concerning whose duties much is said in Church History, and in the decrees of Councils.
The laws of Theodosius order that the lady who holds this office shall be sixty years old; but Justinian and the Council of Chalcedon, with greater gallantry, open the door for the ladies when they are forty years old. The Archdeaconess was regularly and canonically ordained with imposition of hands, unction, robes, holy water, and probably a holy kiss : for this we read in history, that Nectarius, Archbishop of Constantinople, ordained a young widow before she had attained the canonical age, to the great scandal of the orthodox, who boldly declared that there was a flirtation between the Archbishop and Archdeaconess!
The Council of Orange, A.D. 441, with marked incivility to the ladies, passed a decree against the office altogether, which was gradually discontinued in the Western Churches; but the Greek
Church clung to it a long time after. Now it may be observed that this office is unquestionably of prior date to that of an Archbishop; for Tertullian mentions it, and many of the Fathers before the fifth century; so that I cannot see by what right the Church of England has extinguished the Archdeaconess, but only snuffed the Archbishop.
But let us suppose, my dear uncle, that the office were now in being, and that the consecration of the Archdeaconess were in the Prayer Book, and that the Crown had the disposal of this Ecclesiastical honour ; can we doubt that the Clergy, one and all, Evangelical and non-Evangelical, would hesitate to swear “ their unfeigned assent and consent to it”? Can we doubt of its being greatly admired and praised as a glorious distinction of our excellent“ Church as by law established”? And would not the whole clerical body, from the Bishop of London down to my uncle Lucifer, preach and teach in its defence ?-yes; I ask, would not the immortal L. S. E. declare that it was Scripturalthat it was a part of the eternal Church-that it was in the Wilderness forty years--and that Miriam the prophetess was unquestionably an Archdeaconess? And would not all the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons loudly echo “ Amen”?
Then consider again the advantage to Church and State if the Prayer Book would restore this delightful dignity! Think of the great help it would be to the Peeresses, and all the high-born