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Judge if this be like our Enquirer's Congregational Diocese, or can be reasonably oppos’d to a Genuine Episcopal one, even in After - Ages of the Church, and down to these days of ours, if we will not still insist on bare Names, and overlook Things.
His only Salvo is, that on folemn Occasions, they were all to assemble still in one Church, and with their one Bishop together, which neither Dionyfius himself, nor the Historian from whence he quotes it, say any thing of ; and yet we know indeed, that 'twas a customary Form, by which parochial Churches, for many Ages together, used to testify their Union and Dependence upon their several Cathedrals ; namely, to offer and Communicate with them by proper Representatives on the greater Festivals of the Year; and how much more than that, the Church of Alexandria ever did, (erpecially in S. Athanasius’s Time, from whence, our Author tells us, he cou'd bring his Proof ) any Man may pretty easily conceive; since that venerable Father affirms, * that the whole Region of Mareotis and all the Churches in it, belong’d to the Bishop of Alexandria alone; that the Presbyters had their several Portions of it, and each of them Ten or more large Villages under their particular Care. What sort of Congregation this whole Region,
* ο Μαρεώτης χώρα σ 'Αλεξανδρείας και το 'Αλεξανδρείας Επισκόπω αι Εκκλησίαι πάσης ή εας υοό κειν 3. "Έκας και πρεσβυτέρων έχει τας ιδίας κώμας, μεγίσας, και αριθμό δέκα σε και πλείονας. S. Athanaf. Apol. 2. in Oper. Vol. 1. p. 802. Edit. Colon. 1686.
with all the Christians in the great City of Alexandria wou'd make, I leave to any reasonable Man to consider.
Having thus explain'd this familiar Phrase, then, of that primitive Martyr Ignatius, ( That withont the Bishop nothing fou'd be done ) in a Sense which no ways warrants the Hypothesis 'twas quoted for; and that by the unexceptionable Authority of the holy Martyr himself, and the very learned Author's own Concessions, who was here applying it to quite another End; I think there is no cittle in the fore-mention'd Citations, that does not in Course fall in with the same Interpretation ; unless perhaps he will say, that the particular Phrases, ’ETÀ T) dutè, and uía dénois, will not consist with this; by the former of which, he concludes for certain, that the whole Diocese or Bishop's Church assembled in one Place together ; by the latter, that all publick Prayer, and religious Duties, were so jointly perform’d too.
But what Necessity for this ? Do these Words so evidently imply it, that the holy Father himself cou'd have no other Meaning in them? Let the context direct us in the Case; which, together with the Sense, which approv'd Commentators, and other Ecclefiaftical Writers, give us of the Words themselves, will help us to a fair Construction of them.
In the Words immediately before these, the Holy Martyr warns the Magnesians * to account nothing for a reasonable Service, that is done pri
* Μήδε σειράσης αλογόν τι φαίνεται ιδία υμίν. Ad Magnes. p. 33.
vately, or in their own private Way. Agreeable, no doubt, to the Apostolical Charge ( Heb. X. 25.) that they shou'd not forsake the Affembling of themselves together, but meet for publick Worship under the proper Minister of their Church; to avoid Schism and Heterodox Opinions, as he proceeds to explain himself presently after. Now, if it had been undeniably prov'd by any Expressions before, that there neither was, nor ought to be, any more than one single House of Prayer, or of publick Worship within a Bishop's Diocese, and that his Personal Ministry was absolutely necessary in all Divine Offices ; it might have been fairly infer'd indeed, that they were All obliged to assemble with him, in that one individual Place alone : But since the Holy Martyr himself had inforin'd us elsewhere, that the most folemn Offices of publick Worship were Valid in themselves, and Acceptable to God too, when performd by any Person whom the Bishop shou'd Authorize and Approve of for it ; ( as we have seen before he did ) sure, if any particular Number or Society of Members in that Diocese had assembled for Publick Worship, under any Presbyter so allow'd and commission'd by him to Officiate for them, they had answer'd the full Import of the holy Martyr's Charge here given them, against Private and Clandestine Ways of Worshipping; or else I cannot fee how the Bishop's Approbation and Permission of such a person cou'd be to any Purpose at all. Nay, if the same Presbyter ( by vertue of such Permission ) cou'd not minister in Places different from their Bi
shop's Church, or Cathedral of his Diocese too ; our learned Author's Chappel of Ease ( as he calls it) in the Alexandrian Church had been no better than a Schismatical Conventicle, at the least. So little can it be inferr'd from S. Ignatius's Phrase in this Place, that he confin'd a Diocese to a single Congregation.
But let us see what Construction Impartial Commentators, and other Ecclesiastical Wri. ters, have made of this Phrase, 'ETÀ TÙ áut to whose Observations I shall only premise this short and general Key to them all ; that as the Phrase itself does (by no Grammati. cal Construction whatsoever) so much denote a Place, as it does a Thing in general, according to the known Rule of all such Neutral Words as this is; fo in the Instances I shall mention, you will find 'tis accordingly taken and understood by them all.
Thus the learned Grotius, explaining this 'ETÀ TÒ GUTÒ, in Alts iii. 1. he only translates it in these Words, Circa idem tempus, that is, about the same time. And in Beza's Translation of the New Testament, the Note and Paraphrase upon it, Acts ii. 47. is this; that * the common Assemblies of the Church, with their mutual Agreement in the same Doctrine, and the great Onanimity of their Hearts, were signified by it. Agreeable to which Conftru&tion of it,
* Ita communes Ecclesiæ cætus significantur cum mutuà in eandem doctrinam consensione, & luminà ani. morum concordiâ. Not. ad Bez, in A&t. ii. 44. Vid. etiam Poli Synops. in A&t. ii. 44.
is what we meet with in the Greek Translations of Pfal. xxxiv. 3. where that which the Septuagint render 'Eri tò auto, by Aquila is tranflated, 'Ouo Jurador, that is, with one Mind, and one Heart : And I need not remind the Reader of what we just now observ'd, that in Justin Martyr's Use of the Phrase, it could not be understood in the Sense that our learned Enquirer here puts upon it, without the gross Absurdity of bringing the Christians of whole Cities and Countries together into one and the same individual Place at once. Afts iv. 26, 27. Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and People of Israel were gather'd against Christ etor, to dutò, were they all in one place, and at one Time together?
How Concluding that Argument must then be, which proceeds upon a positive Interpretation of a single Phrase, that is indefinite in its own Nature, and determind to signifie otherwise by Authors of no mean Character in the learned World, and is not suitable to the Author's own Notions, from whence it is taken, neither; I shall not need to observe.
But is it possible, you'll say, that uia negocx and uía dénois, that is, one Prayer and one Supplication for a whole Church, shou'd be consistent with this Plurality of Congregations ?
Let us see what we mean by it; and then, 'tis likely, we mall argue clearer about it. For if it fhou'd appear by the Nature of the Thing itself, and by the Use and Application which S. Ignatives makes of it, that it can consist fo; that is all, I think, can be requir’d is it.