Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Sixth Conversation

Apostolicity and Succession

J. N. Darby.

<22004E> 219 {file section a.}

N*. Well, James, we were able to come back to you, and thought you would like to be present while we pursue our inquiry, and Mr. O. will have no more to say to us. And though it was well for Bill M. that Mr. O. should be there, and not to fancy that if one more capable than he were present, there would be an answer, yet we can follow Milner just as well, and more quietly; and he is what they all refer to, and what M. had and trusted in; and I can give you as before what I have collected in reading, so as to judge how far it is true.

Bill M. I hope you have no objection, sir; but though Mr. O. would not come, a gentleman he knows would be glad to be present, and I said I was sure you would not object.

N*. Not in the least. I shall follow Milner as a guide to the points we have to inquire into; but this gentleman can make any remark he wishes, or either of you, of course, if you have anything on your mind; though I shall have, as you two cannot know much of the details, to go pretty straight forward myself through the history.

James. I am very glad to see you, sir, and obliged to you for thinking of me and coming back.

N*. Well, our next point is apostolicity and succession. To me it has no importance whatever. In the Spirit and word of God there can be no succession. They are themselves complete and perfect, and remain the same. Truth is itself; you cannot apply the idea of succession to it. That truth we have in God's written word. The word of God abides for ever. To talk of succession as to it is simple nonsense. They speak of succession as a means of securing the truth. But we have it in the word. It is very striking how the truth is never made a mark of the church by Roman Catholics. The scriptures are full of it. Christ is the truth; the Father's word is truth; we are sanctified by the truth; the apostle loved in the truth and for the truth's sake. If a preacher did not bring sound doctrine, even a woman was to judge him, and not receive him into her house nor bid him God speed. Souls are begotten to God by the truth. The truth sets free. But for the Roman Catholic system it is no mark of anything; for if the truth were a mark of the church, those who seek the church must have the truth first to judge of it by, before they have the church, and if the truth was really possessed by them, they then would be begotten of God and sanctified before they find the church. And so it was at the beginning; the truth was preached and received, and men thereupon entered into the church, because they had received it, if it was really savingly received; and this they do not deny when first preached to heathens and Jews.

220 As to the use made by Irenaeus and others of this succession against heretics, though soon abused as a mere human argument as I have already said, I have no great objection to it. What was from the beginning is the truth; the surest way of finding it is reading what was at the beginning, which we confessedly have in the scripture; still as a mere external proof, if he could shew that no one had ever held it, and that it sprang up now in his own time, it might be used as an argument. Only it has this defect, that the carelessness of men may lose the discernment of many things in scripture, and truth may be brought up which really was at the beginning, and lost or somewhat enfeebled or even corrupted, so that to the men of the age it may seem new, when only reproduced from scripture. But when heretics said it was a bad God that made the Old Testament, as the heretics did, it might be honestly argued: No one from the beginning ever heard such a thing; and this is what Irenaeus did.

The scriptures were the surest appeal, and Irenaeus does appeal to them, only he shews he has not just confidence in using them in the power of the Spirit of God, and with Tertullian it is utterly so. He is just a lawyer, as he was, arguing a brief. And the result shews clearly the danger of leaving scripture; for what was at first used as a testimony soon came to be considered an authority, and then as more convenient for the corruptions of men, so that the scriptures were put out of sight.

However, that was the use especially made of succession by those early writers. We will therefore examine the succession they plead, and see how far apostolicity in this respect will accredit their system. I take them on their own ground, not on mine; for grace and gift, I am perfectly assured, came directly from God, and not by succession. I examine it only as an alleged mark of the true church. They allege from early writers that the episcopal order can be traced up to the foundation of every see by apostles and apostolic men, or afterwards through them in places subsequently founded, and in particular the succession of Rome to Peter; for poor Paul is nowadays pretty much thrown overboard: his teaching does not suit Rome.

221 James. But pardon me, sir, I do not see how this affects the truth or the authority of the word of God. That is true whether there are popes at Rome or not.

N*. Surely it does not; but the idea of authority of what has been handed down from Christ and His apostles to these days, by those, as they allege, commissioned of God, has great power over the imagination. Wherever the word of God is received by faith, all these things drop like autumn leaves, because we have the truth itself with divine certainty, and know it would be a sin to doubt of it. But all have not this simple faith in the word of God; it has not that simple but absolute authority as God's word over them; and habits of mind are very powerful, particularly when they are superstitious habits of mind. It seems humble, though it is not. It is a sin to yield up our souls to man when God has spoken, it is what the scripture calls voluntary humility; and people are afraid to trust God in His word, and do not know that word.

Here is our friend Bill M. He thought the clergy secured all truth to him, though it was official authority, not truth; and even now he has not the word of God at his command to meet these difficulties. He distrusts his clergy after all they have been obliged to admit, and he does not yet know how quite to trust the word.

Bill M. That is true. I hope you will go on, sir.

N*. I will. We must take Milner then, which is the book they gave you, and see what their apostolicity amounts to.

First, remark that the word "bishops" in the word of God does not mean what it does now. There were bishops and deacons in the church at Philippi; there were bishops in the church of Ephesus, called also elders of the church. You have "overseers" in the English version, of Acts 20:28, for bishops, which is indeed the meaning of the word. This is equally plain in Timothy and Titus; so in Acts 14. The apostle chose them for every city. There is no one stationary president of any church in the New Testament, unless we take James at Jerusalem to be such; but then he presides over apostles, which is an awkward position for a bishop. I know Timothy and Titus are alleged to be such. That they were on certain occasions entrusted by the apostles with the care of one or several churches is true, but we do not find them in the scripture locally resident as such anywhere. They were at the apostles' service elsewhere afterwards, as need called for it, according to Christ's will. All this is uncontested and incontestable. Tradition localized them afterwards; scripture does not. That very soon indeed there were local presidents, who very early got the name of bishops, I do not contest; but the origin of this lies historically buried in the most absolute obscurity.

222 It is stated that the apostle John appointed bishops in various places in Asia Minor. Thus Tertullian says that the order of bishops, followed up to its origin, will have its standing in John as its author (contra Marcion. 4, 5), Clemens Alex., quoted by Eus. (3, 23), saying he went round to establish bishops, formed churches, and named as members of the clergy persons pointed out by the Holy Ghost. But this was quite at the end of the century and would prove that there were not any bishops before, that Paul had not established any, just as scripture shews. Indeed Tertullian goes farther, for he makes John the author of the episcopate. Certainly, if this be true (which is possible as history, not scripture or the word of God), he was in contrast with Paul, or rather with God's word.* Jerome gives a different account. In his epistle to Evangelus (146 in Vallar. Ben. 101), after shewing from scripture that bishops and presbyters were the same, he declares that if afterwards one was chosen to be above the rest, it was done to avoid schism, lest one drawing [it] to himself should break the church of Christ. However this may be, there very soon were such, but not recognized in scripture. There we find the authority of the apostles, particularly Paul, in these matters, and those whom he employed as serving with him under the Lord, particularly Timothy and Titus.

{*In this same chapter of the treatise (contra Marc.) we have the false point of Tertullian, prescription, which thus wholly breaks down. If what is earlier is truer, if what is earlier is from the beginning, what is from the beginning is from the apostles; and this assumes not that what was from the beginning is true, as the apostle John states it (which we have in the scriptures of the New Testament), but what is earlier is truer, which has no force at all, and is the basis of the whole, because it does not go to the beginning, and often is not true. Unless his assertion, "what is earlier is from the beginning," be accepted as necessarily true — and this assertion is utterly groundless — clearly a thing may be earlier than another, yet not from the beginning.}

223 Eusebius also relates (3, 11), that after the martyrdom of James and the destruction of Jerusalem, the apostles and surviving disciples of Jesus met and chose Symeon, son of Cleopas, cousin of the Lord, to fill up James' place. When we come to details, difficulties accumulate. We know from the Acts that Peter did not found the church at Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, whose episcopal succession is traced up to him. Barnabas, as a Paul, laboured there; all that we read of Peter there is that Paul had to rebuke him to his face for his want of uprightness. Indeed Peter never appears in scripture but as apostle of the circumcision. His epistles are directed to the dispersed Jews who had become Christians. Antioch, which was the Gentile capital of that part of the world, was the known sphere of other labourers. He may very likely have visited the Jews there. But here too Peter is said to have established the first bishop. Eusebius, nearly three hundred years afterwards, tells us he established Evodias the first bishop; Athanasius, about the same time, says Ignatius was the first after the apostles, Origen says the second, Jerome says he was the third.

Bill M. Here is Mr. R., sir.

N*. Good evening, sir.

Mr. R. Good evening, sir. I have taken the liberty to bring with me this clergyman of the Anglican body, Mr. D., who though not of the church of Rome, may shew how universal or Catholic principles condemn the rashness and heady mind which does not listen to the church, and the deadly evil of schism.

N*. Well, gentlemen, I am very glad you are here. We had come to apostolicity and succession, and I was about to take up Dr. Milner's statements on the subject, as he is the authority constantly used in these countries, and to compare his statements with authentic history.

Mr.D. It is a most important point, the security for grace and truth. It is just what keeps me in the Anglican church. It possesses a hierarchy which can be traced up to the apostles, and maintains the primitive faith of the church, though unhappily expressed in language too hostile to the great body subject to the Western patriarch; still these expressions are supportable, because they only refer to the common usages and popular views on the points treated, and not to the recognized faith of the church, which is to be sought in her creeds and formularies, and hence do not preclude the hope of reunion between the Anglican and Roman parts of the same body.

224 N*. I am aware that these are the views of the party you belong to. The authority of the word of God does not allow me to entertain them. Its statements are the truth, so that we have it directly from God, and, with a mind humble through grace, can learn and profit by it.

D. How do you know it is the word of God, and, if it be, how can simple and ignorant people understand it without being taught?

N*. We have spoken of this. The first part of your question is infidelity, which is the uniform resort of Romanists, and of all your school. People who have had it (the word of God) will be judged by it in the last day, when your clergy cannot help them, and therefore it behoves them to look to it now. The ministry of it is an ordinance of God, and to be highly valued; but the test of truth is the word of God itself. And in point of fact, as a rule, the clergy and not the laity, the teachers and not the taught, have introduced heresies.

As to the second point, it is a presumptuous charge against the apostles and other servants of the Lord, for they addressed themselves to the people (what you call the laity in the church) and indeed it is charging God with folly, for it was by inspiration that the apostle and others addressed their writings to all the church. But these points we have considered already.

We have now to see whether what you allege to be a security for grace and truth is really one, or a security for anything. I mean the succession of the episcopate, and particularly of the Roman pontiffs. The succession of the archbishops of Canterbury since they have existed, is much more certain, though doubt hangs over that too, because of the principles of Edward VI's reign. I think if I were to put you to legal proof there, you would find it difficult to make it good. But that I will not meddle with now. We can take the popes, for this is confessedly the key-stone of the arch, and your authorities send us there.

D. By all means, though I should be curious to know your reasons for casting doubt on the Anglican succession. You do not believe in the story of the Nag's Head?

N*. Not a word of it. It was a mere Jesuit invention, by a person named Holywood, set up as a tale nearly fifty years afterwards. There can be no doubt that Barlow consecrated Parker, and then it flowed regularly on. But even all this is a poor security for faith in contrast with the actual word and Spirit of God, which (unless open infidels) no one denies we have. But the Anglican flaw lies elsewhere, as you may see even in Milner (Letter 29): the question is who consecrated Barlow. But I will not go into this now, but see what security Roman succession gives. I deny the principle, and appeal to the word of God as the truth actually possessed by the church. And as regards the truth there can be no succession; it is itself. But we may examine the alleged security.

225 D. Be it so. You have a writer as early as Irenaeus appealing to the succession of Roman pontiffs, as of all other places, but specially to Rome, and giving the clear succession to his own days.

N*. We have, and that there were very soon local presidents who early got the name of bishops, I do not contest. But for all that, nothing is more uncertain than the origin of the episcopal order, the principle on which it is founded, and the succession to which Irenaeus refers. As regards the scriptures, we find in general elders called bishops, as Jerome insists, and no president or presiding authority. The apostles were in direct communication with the elders, or with the church, or with both, employing some Timothy and Titus in personal service when they were wanting, and then recalling them to themselves.

The nearest approach to anything of the kind is James at Jerusalem, who is often therefore called the first bishop. But then he presides over apostles and Peter himself, in the assembly held at Jerusalem, as is evident from Acts 15. If we are to believe Chrysostom (Hom. 38, 1 Cor. 15, ed. Ben. 10, 355), the Lord Himself imposed His hands on His brother, and made him bishop of Jerusalem. So Epiphanius (Haer. 78, 7), "He first took the episcopal throne to whom first the Lord committed His throne upon the earth!" How Peter came into it as a source of episcopacy, it would then be hard to say. How contrary this is to every scriptural thought, I need hardly say.

D. Why do you treat these holy traditions and fathers thus?

N*. What throne had Christ upon earth? Rejection and the cross was His portion. And how could He establish James by imposition of hands and make him bishop, when He Himself was there, and when He had not yet made propitiation so as to lay the foundation, or ascended on high and sent the Holy Ghost so as to begin the work for which He expressly tells the apostles to wait. Besides, if Christ gave James His throne on the earth as a religious supremacy, where was Peter? However great the folly of all this, Chrysostom and Epiphanius knew no supreme throne at Rome, which Peter had received as the first of the apostles. On their system, there would be a superior one at Jerusalem, unless Christ's throne was inferior to Peter's. It is also related by Eusebius that the remaining apostles and disciples appointed Symeon, also the Lord's relative, after James' death and the destruction of Jerusalem. It cannot be alleged that James took the Jewish throne, Peter the Gentile, for then there would be two, and Peter was unquestionably the apostle of the circumcision, not of the Gentiles. If we are to credit what Epiphanius (Haer. 80, 7) calls "the divine word and teaching of the Apostolic Constitutions," James was consecrated by Christ and the apostles (Const. Ap. 8, 35). I know all learned men admit the Constitutions to be forgeries. But this helps the simple mind to judge what we have to trust in these fathers and ancient writings. For this writer-down of all heresies holds these forgeries to be the divine word and teaching.

226 D. But you cannot deny the fact that James was bishop of Jerusalem.

N*. That he was the leader or president there, no person subject to scripture denies; Acts 15; Gal. 2:2. But from that to a universal episcopacy as a note of the true church and security for grace and truth, is a wide step over a large abyss (and not only that, but the succession from them), and if true denies the pope's supremacy. The apostles as instruments were the security then, and when they were going they did not commend to successors as a security; but Paul commends the elders and flock to God, and the word of His grace as sufficient. And Peter takes care that, by his writings, they should have the truth in remembrance. But we will see what even Roman Catholic authorities and fathers furnish us, that is, on the episcopacy or apostolicity being a security and that by which the true church may be known. We may begin with Jerome, whose authority is so great.

In his epistle to Oceanus (Vall. 69, 416): "With the ancients bishops and presbyters are the same, for that is the name of the dignity, this of age." And it was no casual thought, no occasional argument. In his letter to Evangelus (Vall. 146, old edd. Evogrius) after quoting Philippians 1:1; Acts 20; Titus 1: 5, etc.; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 5; 2 and 3 John, using the strongest language in citing them, he says, "that afterwards one was elected who should be above (praeponeretur) the others was done as a remedy for schism, lest each drawing the church of Christ to himself should break it!" Again on Titus 1:5, still more positively: "A presbyter is therefore the same thing as a bishop, and before, by the instigation of the devil, there were parties in religion, and it was said among the peoples, I am of Paul, etc., the churches were governed by the common council of presbyters. But after every one thought that those he baptized were his, not Christ's, it was decreed in the whole world that one of the presbyters should be chosen, who should be set over the rest, to whom all the care of the church should appertain. Does any one think that the judgment that a bishop and a presbyter are one, and one the name of age, the other of office, is ours, not that of the scriptures? let him read again:" and then quotes Philippians 1; Acts 20; 1 Peter 5; adding here Hebrews 13:17, on which he comments.

227 He continues, "These then that we may shew that the presbyters were the same thing as bishops. But, by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be pulled up, the whole solicitude was deferred to one. As therefore the presbyters know that they are subject to him who is set over them by the custom of the church, so will the bishops know, that they by a custom of the church, rather than by the truth of a disposition of the Lord,* are greater than presbyters," etc. And in the same letter to Evangelus, he tells us, that till the time of Heraclas and Dionysius, in Alexandria, if the patriarch died, the presbyters chose and put into office (as the soldiers an emperor, or deacons an archdeacon) one of their own number; and other more modern authorities state that Mark, who was said to have founded that see, appointed twelve presbyters to be with the patriarch, and, when he died, they all laid their hands on one of their number, and that this continued till the time of Patriarch Alexander in the year 318, who ordained that the bishops should meet and do it.

{*"Dispositionis Dominicae veritate."}

228 Augustine in a letter to Jerome confirms the notion that it is by the usage of the church that bishops have a more honourable name than other presbyters: "Honorum vocabula quae Ecclesia usus obtinent." Urban II in a Council at Beneventum, A.D. 1091, and a countless number of bishops and abbots, decreeing that none but presbyters and deacons could be chosen bishops, declared, Art. 1, "We call sacred orders diaconate and presbytership only. It is read that the primitive church had these alone, as to these alone we have precept of the apostle." The object was evidently to exclude any of the sub-orders being chosen, for in exceptional cases by permission sub-deacons might. But the fact is clearly stated, which is what is important. The Decretal of Gratian quotes Isidore Hisp. to the same purpose, Decr. 21, 1, and what we have seen of Jerome 93, 24; 95, 5, and in the following sections, the relations of bishops and presbyters.*

{*Medina, a Roman Catholic theologian, says that not only Jerome but Augustine, Leontius, Primasius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, OEcumenius, and Theophylact were all in the Aerian heresy on this subject. That the church had condemned in Aerius Wycliffe and the Waldenses, but that it was borne in these fathers or dissembled on account of the reverence paid to them. Bellarmine says that (to speak very gently) this is very inconsiderate, as it puts a slur on these illustrious fathers, and makes the church an accepter of persons; and they were guilty, more so than Aerius, who lived before them; and more, the fathers (if this were so) could not be cited as an authority. (Bell. 2, 161; De Haer. 1, 15.)}

I have no idea of approving or disapproving these views, but when you make apostolicity, and in fact episcopal succession) a mark of the true church, your whole ground fails under you. "What was from the beginning" is true. As to the truth, I hold that the truth that was from the beginning is surely the truth for me. But as to that on which you make the certainty of truth rest, I have here your greatest authorities admitting it not to have been at the beginning, as says Pope Urban, "the precept of the apostle refers to deacons and presbyters alone." You, gentlemen, a Ritualist and Anglican Catholic, and Mr. R. a Roman Catholic, would impose this succession upon us as a necessary mark of the true church. But, when the apostle founded it, and as scripture presents it, it has not this mark at all. Your own authorities confess it. Tertullian, if he is to be trusted, gives other and indeed different information. He says expressly (Cont. Marcion. 4, 5) that, "The order of bishops, followed up to its origin, will have its standing in John as its author." And Clemens Alexandrinus, quoted by Eusebius, 3, 23, says, John went round to establish bishops, form churches, and name as members of the clergy persons pointed out by the Holy Ghost.

229 But this was at the end of the century, and where Paul had laboured; and if true, it would prove that there were not any bishops before that. Paul had not established any, just as scripture shews. I have scripture, that is, a positive revelation of God, exhibiting churches to me without this kind of bishops having individual authority; and the founder of these churches, the apostle Paul, instituting another kind of church government: that is, that another order of things was what was from the beginning. And then I have a tradition more than one hundred and fifty years afterwards that the apostle John went round these churches and appointed bishops; and moreover, the most learned of the fathers of the church, as they are called, telling me that in fact it was not so from the beginning, that presbyters and bishops are the same, and that, if one individual was set up over the above presbyters, it was only to keep quiet and unity in the church, because of the ambition of the clergy, a mere arrangement of men, but not God's ordinance.*

{*This was felt so strongly that Roman Catholic doctors have declared that such as Jerome were materially heretics — that is, in what they said; but Bellarmine says this is rash.}

Another most famous doctor, Augustine, tells me that it was according to words of honour by the custom of the church, bishops were greater than presbyters. That is, it certainly was not from the beginning, was not a mark of the church at the beginning, consequently never can be. This then forms no possible security for grace or faith. It shews only how early the clergy began to be ambitious and to create divisions. If you reject Jerome, Augustine and Pope Urban, and the rest who state this, where are your Fathers, your tradition, and your authority? I am then too thrown back on the scriptures which have neither bishops in the modern sense, nor succession. It is possible that as a human arrangement John may have done so, setting aside Paul's arrangement; but this is certain, it cannot have the authority of the word or be alleged to have been from the beginning, and your Peter plan falls to the ground. You have other traditions for him, I know, which we will examine, but to which the same answer will apply.

230 D. But you cannot go against the whole stream of tradition, and make John contradict Paul.

N*. You must remember, dear sir, that we are not proving bishops to be right, or to be wrong; but seeking the sure marks of the true church as alleged by the system you uphold. In the scriptures or in the beginning, as is confessed by those I have referred to, and strongly asserted by Jerome, and fully recognized by Pope Urban in a numerous council, there were none such as you call bishops, and St. Augustine confirms it, saying it was a name of honour by the custom of the church. Tertullian comes to tell us it originates with the apostle John, who went round to do it, and so Clemens Alexandrinus or Eusebius. All state or confirm the fact that there were none at the beginning. If, as Jerome states, it was to meet factions in the clergy, it is possible that John may have accepted and suffered it as a necessity. It is a mere tradition of a century after, and refers to one locality, and we have the positive testimony of scripture that it was not so ordered at the beginning, but positively otherwise, which fact is insisted on by those you call fathers. Paul calls for the bishops or elders, warns them of coming evils, and refers them to God and the word of His grace, without an idea of any bishop being a security for grace or faith or anything else. How can I take it as a mark of the church, when the church in its best estate had no such mark; the scriptures, as confessed by fathers and popes, stating distinctly that it was not so? Your famous rule, "What always," etc., condemns you entirely here; and Jerome and Augustine knew the episcopal succession well enough, and were attached to the unity and order of the external professing body as devoutly as any one could wish.

As to opposition between the apostles, I believe only what is in the word. You by your traditions bring in John changing Paul's system. If it was historically the case, it only proves God would not give scriptural authority to it. I am in no way held to believe these traditions, nor do I know the import of them if there be some historical basis. And remark this, by no possible means can succession be a mark of the true church, as the church must subsist before the mark could be there. If there, it may be used as a testimony, wisely or not, but it cannot be a mark, for it cannot be at the beginning.

D. But we have the lists, up to the apostles, of the episcopal succession, to which the earliest writers appeal.

231 N*. Who furnish them to us?

D. Irenaeus for example. Tertullian makes the same appeal.

N*. Only they?

D. Others may speak of it, but in them we have a clear testimony which none can gainsay.

N*. Well, let us examine what is said, and how far it affords a mark of the true church. We may first take Antioch, as we shall have a good deal to say to Rome. Who was the first person who filled that see?

D. Evodias.

N*. Is that quite clear?

D. Well. He came first after Peter, and Ignatius followed.

N*. Can you rest your case on the certainty of this?

D. I rest it on the general tradition which traces the churches up to their founders.

N*. But Peter did not found the church at Antioch at all. Some of the scattered disciples addressed the Gentiles there, and it was the sphere of Barnabas and Paul's labours for a length of time, and the place whence they went out to preach the gospel to the heathen. Peter was not the apostle of the Gentiles at all. The Lord Jesus expressly sent Paul to them, and the Holy Ghost sent him forth to that work from Antioch, and there he returned when he had gone over a considerable part of Asia Minor. Not only so, but when he went up to Jerusalem, James, Cephas, and John, pillars there in the assembly, when they saw what God had given Paul, gave to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that they should go to the Gentiles, and themselves to the circumcision. That is, to Paul was given the apostolic commission to the Gentiles. God was mighty in Peter to the circumcision. Whatever commission (which was not from Christ ascended, but risen and in Galilee, nor from the Holy Ghost) he had to the Gentiles, with the rest in Matthew 28, he gave it up to Paul and undertook to go to the Jews. The apostleship of the circumcision was committed to Peter, that of the Gentiles to Paul. So that all your derivation from Peter is antibiblic. Peter we never hear of at Antioch in scripture, but as rebuked to his face for his dissimulation.

D. Is it right to speak of the holy apostle thus?

232 N*. I suppose it is, as the scriptures so speak of him,* and Paul does it expressly to combat this superstitious derival of authority from Peter to which you attach such importance. The Judaizing Christians made everything of it then, and opposed Paul. Paul in the beginning of Galatians boasts of his acting independently of it. So do we. "It made no matter to me" is all Paul has to say for them. Every Christian acknowledges the apostolic title of Peter (to say nothing of his zeal and devotedness) and receives his writings as inspired; but they know he was the apostle of the circumcision, not of the Gentiles; and it is remarkable that Paul owns no apostles but as consequent on Pentecost (Eph. 4:10-11); and he tells us that, as to the church outside the circumcision, no doubt in the world at large, he as a wise master-builder has laid the foundation. From him you have no succession, and succession from Peter he rejects and despises. This no one who owns the authority of scripture can deny (Gal. 2:7-9; Rom. 11:13; Acts 26:17; ch. 9:15; ch. 13:2-4); and Peter addresses his epistle to the scattered believing Jews, however precious it may be to every saint.

{*Augustine, in a letter to Jerome, calls on him to sing a palinodian for making the scriptures tell a lie as to this, which made Jerome very angry. The Benedictine editors say Jerome recanted. He says he put down borrowed matter in his commentary as well as his own, and perhaps in this way taught error. God is his judge, not I; but I do not see by fruits a sign that Jerome was a real Christian influenced by grace.}

D. But you do not mean to call in question the apostolic authority of Peter.

N*. No, surely not. But I take his ministry as the scripture gives it, the apostleship of the circumcision or of the Jews. So he let in Cornelius that there might be unity, the first Gentile brought in. But the ministry of the gospel to every creature under heaven was committed formally to Paul by a Saviour revealed in glory, and further he had a distinctive ministry of the church, Colossians 1:23-25: where we see, it was a dispensation committed to him. (Compare Eph. 3; 1 Cor. 9:17.) Now you have no succession but a Petrine, one which Paul rejects, I may say with scorn, and from an apostle who, it is quite clear, was not the apostle of the Gentiles at all.

D. I am rather afraid of this slighting of the first of the apostles, whose very name is a witness and seal of the testimony Christ bore him. It is hazardous, the spirit of pride, which is just what misleads you all. The authority of the church is gone with you; and now, the authority of Peter, to whom the keys of the church were confided, and the feeding of Christ's sheep.

233 N*. Peter, that is, his writings, have exactly the same authority for me as Paul's, because both are inspired. There is no pride nor hazard in the matter, but simply learning and bowing to what the Lord Jesus, or the apostle Paul himself has said, and there we see that, finally, the mission to the Gentiles was confided to Paul by the Lord Himself, without any derivation from, or reference or subordination to, Peter. But where do you find the keys of the church?

D. In Matthew 16.

N*. I do not. I find the Lord, not Peter, going to build His church; and so Peter, in his epistles, does not speak of doing it, but of living stones coming. Paul does; he lays the foundation. But there are no keys of the church at all. People do not build with keys, and I repeat it is Christ who builds, not Peter. Nothing is said of him as regards the church, but that he was Peter, a stone; the keys of the kingdom were given to him, and there, I doubt not, all he bound or loosed was sanctioned in heaven; but it was not in the church; there, as to this passage in Matthew 16, Christ alone is active.

D. But I never heard this called in question; it seems to me a mere quibble. The church and the kingdom of heaven are the same thing.

N*. Surely they are not. The church which Christ thus builds will be in glory with Him for ever and ever, and, in another aspect, the tabernacle of God. It is what Christ will present to Himself — a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, and that it is in any sense, or at any time, His body or His bride, can in no way be said of the kingdom. Tares are sown in the kingdom among the wheat. He gathers out of it all things that offend, and them that do iniquity; He will deliver it up to God, even the Father. The church, His body and His bride, He will never give up.

When the marriage of the Lamb is come, judgment will follow here below. It is then that He takes to Him His great power, and reigns. The kingdom is the sphere of His title and power as King; the church is His body. But the passage itself is clear; Christ builds the church. The administration of the kingdom is committed to Peter, symbolized by the keys. Scripture, that is, God Himself, is much wiser, and more accurate, where it is wise to be so, than we are, and He has attributed the use of the keys to the kingdom, not to the church. This, as here spoken of, Christ builds, and the temple is not finished yet. It grows to a holy temple in the Lord. And, where such a system of authority is built upon it, it is very hazardous to change what is stated, and then to build on the change you have made.

234 D. But surely there is a church on earth.

N*. Undoubtedly; it is there we are to look for it now. But into that building, as founded wisely by the apostolic ministry upon earth, wood and hay and stubble may be brought in — a distinct thing from the body which is formed, as 1 Corinthians 12 informs us, by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, where every member partakes of the fulness of the Head, and is united to Him. But tell me, do you think that there can be rotten, bad, members of the body of Christ united to Him by the Holy Ghost, and who go finally to hell?

D. There may be hypocrites in it on earth.

N*. No doubt. False brethren may creep in, and take their place amongst the members of Christ's body, but they are not united to Christ by the Spirit, and thus members of His body. But you admit that there cannot be really dead, rotten, members of Christ's body?

D. Of course there cannot.

N*. Then the external body you call the church is not the body of Christ; for there, confessedly, are multitudes of bad members. They are members of your church, perhaps priests in it; they are not members of Christ's body. That is, your church is not the body of Christ. They are wood and hay and stubble, it may be, viewing it as a building built by man. But the attributing the privileges of the body to it is all a delusion. The apostle compares it in 1 Corinthians 10, referring to baptism and the Lord's supper, to Israel's coming out of Egypt, and many falling in the wilderness after all. The members of Christ's body do not perish in the wilderness.

D, But you are running after the phantom of a pure church.

N*. I am not running after anything; I am simply taking the statements of scripture as to facts. It goes further, for it not only warns me of the possibility of wood, and hay, and stubble being built into God's building, but that in the last days perilous times will come, and that there will be a form of piety, denying the power; nay, that evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse.

235 D. And what do you make of the gates of hell not prevailing against it?

N*. I thank God with all my heart for it. What Christ builds, no power of Satan shall frustrate or cast down, but that is not built up yet. There is a building into which could be built what the fire of God would consume in judgment, and I do not confound that with what Christ is building for eternal glory. All that God ever set up in good has been entrusted to man, and he has always failed. This does not hinder God accomplishing His purposes all the same. The church, as entrusted to man, has failed, as Adam did, as Israel did when they got the law. It is revealed that in the last days there will be the form of piety, denying the power. The church that Christ builds, the gates of hell will not prevail against. Now when you are claiming security of faith and grace by episcopal succession, you are claiming it for what is connected with man's responsibility (not with Christ's building), for that which the apostle declared would fail. He says (Acts 20) that after his decease, from within and without the danger would arise, and refers the elders of Ephesus to God and the word of His grace. Why after his decease, if he left a secure guard in apostolical succession? Nor does Peter know any such. Nor, I may add, John; for as to the churches he superintended, he warns them of having their candlestick removed, or being spewed out of Christ's mouth, and he knows no such security.

D. But I do not say a particular church may not fail, but only that the whole church cannot.

N*. Pardon me, you refer, and your authorities refer, to Antioch, and Rome, and others, even those referred to in the Apocalypse. And where is the promise to the whole once planted by man, I mean the apostles, on the earth, if each particular one may fall?

D. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

N*. But that is what Christ is building, and it is not complete yet. Living stones are, we may trust, still coming to the living stone; it is not what was externally planted as a whole on earth, already established as a corporation, so to speak, settled by men on the earth, however perfectly, at the beginning, according to the mind of God; still left to man's responsibility, whose dangers the apostle warns the elders of, and which he declares would end in a form of piety, denying the power. What Christ builds will not fail; but when man builds, man's responsibility and its effects come in. Judgment begins at the house of God. And if the evil servant say, My Lord delays His coming, and beat the men-servants and maidservants, and eat and drink with the drunken, his portion would be with the unbelievers. The result, in one case, rests on man's responsibility, in the other on the unfailing power of Christ; but this last is not yet finished, it is not a complete structure on earth. It grows to a holy temple: so scripture teaches us. But now I take you on your own ground. When we diverged to this point, you had just said that Peter, Evodias, Ignatius, was the order of succession at Antioch.

236 Let us see what tradition tells us here, for history is all we can have — statements made long after what men had heard. Theodoret (Dial. 1, vol. 4, 33; Harris, 642), and Chrysostom say that Ignatius was ordained by Peter. Athanasius calls him the first after the apostles (De Synodis, 1, 607; Ben. ed. Pat.); Origen calls him second after Peter (Hom. 6, in Luc.); Jerome says he was the third (Cap. Script.). Now, in the first place, these statements, if to be reconciled, shew that neither Evodias nor Ignatius were successors of Peter, for he was alive during both their lives, and, if the statement be true, Evodias died before Peter did. Indeed Bellarmine, though he makes Peter the first bishop of Rome, admits that the apostles, as such, had no successors (De Sum. Pont. 4, 25). The pope, he says, succeeds to him as ordinary pastor of the whole church, the bishops not — as to them, the apostles having only an extraordinary place. According to him, Christ ordained Peter, or we should have no episcopate at all; he, James and John, and they, the rest; and so they were all bishops.* Still he makes Peter, James, and John ordain James after the Lord's death. Thus, at Antioch, one Father says Ignatius was first after the apostles, another that he was the second, another that he was the third.

{*Of what see? The proof that Christ ordained Peter is as curious a piece of reasoning as we might easily find. It is only worth citing to shew what kind of ground these subjects rest on. See Bell. de S. P., 1, 23, 2, 4, and other places in this treatise.}

This is hard to be reconciled, and to mean the same thing. One says that he was the first bishop after the apostle was gone. Another counts him second, that is, after Evodias, not reckoning the apostle Peter at all. Another, counting Peter in, makes him third. But then here come the Apostolic Constitutions, and Baronius, the great Catholic historian, approves seemingly their views of the case (Bar. 12, 45), that Evodias was named by Paul, Ignatius by Peter for the Jewish Christians. So that there were two bishops and the unity of the church gone, and the fruit of the settlement and decrees of the apostles wholly lost, Paul and Peter acting in contradiction to the object of them. Then they suppose that Ignatius gave way to Evodias when matters were settled, and, when Evodias died, Ignatius came in, and was bishop by himself.

237 In general the Constitutions (7, 46) give a list of one to a see, but in Philadelphia, and Rome also, two, one by Peter and one by Paul. These testimonies may be little worth, and, if true, in splitting the church into two, shew anything but a ground of confidence or security of doctrine: the succession itself has to be settled. Eusebius is quite clear that Evodias was first bishop, then after him Ignatius (3, 22). Now, as Theodoret distinctly affirms that Ignatius received the grace of the high-priesthood from Peter, for which Chrysostom also admires him, all this account is not only utter confusion in itself, but the whole story contradicts the account we have in the Acts, which gives us accounts of Antioch later than the time in which a great part of what these ecclesiastical authors speak of should have happened. That very soon, unless at Rome, the order became regular, no one disputes; but the important links on your system are the first, and, the moment we seek any details of these, all is confusion and uncertainty. We get, as in Apost. Const., a list of names, possibly taken from scripture, as Timothy for Ephesus, Titus for Crete, Crescens for Galatia, but really nothing more than a fancied list of names, because after ages would have it so.

D. But why do you except Rome? Its succession is sure enough.

N*. Anything but that. It is so uncertain, that the best Roman Catholic authors are often not agreed which of two, sometimes of three, rivals was legitimate pope, and to such a point, that you have two, and even three, numbers attached to the names of popes. Some historians say John XX, some XXI, some XXII, for the same person, and so of other popes. But this we will, of course, look into; but, as I have said, the origin is the chief point, though, of course, if there be breaches in the conduit, it will not bring in the water rightly, if water indeed there be.

238 D. But you do not question that there was originally this living water?

N*. No. But I have this water in the perennial spring itself, the word of God, and your long, and, I am afraid, very muddy, canal gives me more mud than water, and what water it gives remains spoiled by the mud that is in it; and we follow the advice of your great friend Cyprian: when the water does not come properly, we go and examine if the spring has failed. It certainly has not, so we get straight to the words of Christ and His apostles. As you insist on the canal water, we, though rejoicing in the fresh springs of God's word, examine your canal with you, because you are trying to persuade people that there is no other way of getting the water, seeing the canal was made on purpose, and that they are all wrong in going to the spring, and should trust you. We have drunk of the water, and engage them to go and drink of it, and they will soon see the difference between that and what your canal furnishes, and learn what the fresh and living water is which God originally gave them. We cannot but think, from your attempts to hinder them, that you do not like the pure water, and have got a taste for mud. Now your grand reservoir is Rome, and we will see whether the security of the first inlet you rely on is very great.

And here I must beg you to remember that it is a security for faith by a clear and unquestionable succession we are seeking. To us it is quite immaterial, because we have the water itself, the divine word, and can reckon on God's grace and Spirit for the use of it, both for drink and for cleansing; but to you the question is vital. It is your security for truth. Now we are met by exactly the same difficulties as in Antioch, to me a plain proof (not merely of particular uncertainty, which no one can, and no one acquainted with the facts does, deny, but) that the system which asserts this apostolic appointment of successors is utterly groundless. Scripture not only is silent as to such, but really denies it. The apostle appointed elders or bishops, many in a place, and on leaving their service speaks of no others, so that the plea of Theodoret is that they were called at first apostles (Com. on Phil. 1), and gradually declined the name, and were called bishops. Of this there is not a trace in scripture, those called apostles having no such office, and in one case merely meaning messenger of an assembly.

239 Tradition, on the other hand, in the only two cases where any details are given, proves, through the uncertainty that surrounds them, that there was no such appointment known, though, as centuries rolled by, and the system prevailed, they traced it up to the names best known at the first. Thus Irenaeus goes up to Polycarp at Smyrna. But Polycarp writes as one among the presbyters in his letter to the Philippians; "Polycarp and the presbyters with him," and afterwards, at the end of Section 5 and the beginning of Section 6, knows only presbyters and deacons. Perhaps the first positive recognition of it is in Ignatius' letter to Polycarp as it stands in the Syriac version. And this was in Trajan's time, in the year 116, at which time nobody doubts that one presiding prelate existed. Yet even he (3, 22) speaks of the succession of presbyters. As to Polycarp himself, Tertullian says he was put into the office by John, referring to no one before him (De P. Har. 32): Irenaeus, 3, 3, says he had seen him young ordained by the apostles; so Jerome (De Viris Illustribus), that he was a disciple of John, and made bishop of Smyrna by him. But in the Apostolic Constitutions we have three bishops, and no Polycarp — Aristo, Stratias, and Aristo (7, 46). But Cotelerius tells us that those celebrated are Bucolus first, and then Polycarp. Irenaeus knows nothing of Bucolus, but, as Polycarp knew John, and he knew Polycarp, traces the certainty through what they taught, that the church had never held that the world was created by another and evil god, who had also given the law; for this was the subject of Irenaeus' controversy.

Next, as to the church in Rome. This double foundation of the church, which we have already seen alleged in Antioch, cannot be admitted for a moment as being laid of God. We find it carefully guarded against in both doctrine and ecclesiastical care in scripture. It is stated that the church of Rome was founded by Peter and Paul (Iren. 7, 3);* but the same thing is said of Corinth (Eus. 2, 25), or, if not founded, jointly established in the faith. Paul and Peter went together by Corinth to Rome. It may be so at the end of their lives, but it seems very uncertain. One thing is quite certain — Peter had nothing to do with founding the church in either place. The divinely given history of the Acts assures us of that.

{*I have already said that I do not think there can be the smallest doubt that "principalitatem," as to the Roman church, was archen, in the sense of origin; It is of that Irenaeus is speaking, so that the context proves it.}

240 D. But they may have journeyed together to Rome to their martyrdom.

N*. It is possible; but the church was long founded, and that does not make Peter bishop of Rome; indeed, in your earlier* traditions Linus is represented as first, or Clement, but never Peter. And now, as to this succession, we are in the same uncertainty. Irenaeus tells us Linus was first, then Anacletus, then Clement; so Eusebius some two centuries later. But Tertullian much earlier than the latter, giving it as a positive register (census) of the succession, says Polycarp was appointed by John at Smyrna, and Clement ordained by Peter for Rome. But then our Apostolic Constitutions do as they did at Antioch, give us Linus appointed by Paul, and Clement by Peter (7, 46). Jerome (Cal. Vir. Ill. 15) tells us that Clement was the fourth from Peter, as he must be, if indeed Linus was the second, and Anacletus third. However, most of the Latins think that Clement was the second from Peter the apostle.

{*But for two hundred years and more.}

But in Optatus Mil. (De S. Don. 3, 3) we have another list given as quite certain — Peter, Linus, Clement, Anacletus. Epiphanius (27, 6), after a very long story as to how it came about, says that it was uncertain whether Cletus (the second, according to him) was ordained by the apostles, but that they were bishops during the lifetime of the apostles (Peter and Paul having both been bishops of Rome together). They having gone away, left Linus and Cletus in charge; then Clement, who had been first named but would not serve, on the death of Cletus was forced to take the see; but that at any rate the succession was Peter and Paul, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Evaristus. And to shew how little secure these lists are, were it of any importance, in what follows he leaves out one known to have held the See of Rome altogether, and puts another quite wrongly in his stead, having left him out in his proper place. Ruffinus (Praf. ad Recogn.) accounts for two of the statements, for people objected to them in his days, by making Linus and Cletus bishops while Peter was living, and Clement appointed by him before his death; he says it was the same at Caesarea, where Zaccheus was bishop. One of the popes (Celestine V) gives us another explanation of the matter; that Clement resigned because one pope should not appoint his successor, and Peter appointed him, and that then he took it afterwards on surer ecclesiastical ground — a singular view of apostolic authority. Remark again here how Paul, who certainly was first at Rome, is ignored.

241 Now let us see what conclusion the most respectable Roman Catholic historians have drawn from the sources to which I have referred. Fleury (54, 2, 26): "The apostles having founded and built up the Roman church gave the charge of governing it to St. Linus, the same of whom St. Paul wrote to Timothy. To St. Linus succeeded St. Clement or St. Cletus, otherwise named Anacletus. It is certain that they were the three first bishops of Rome; but neither their order nor the time of their pontificate is certain. Twelve years are given to St. Linus, and yet it is more likely that he only survived the apostles a year or two, and consequently that they had established him bishop of Rome to govern it under them as they were accustomed to do in other places." There are two things certain here, that Peter was not bishop, and that he did not appoint Clement before his death. All the rest is uncertain.

Dupin, another most respectable Roman Catholic historian: "St. Clement, disciple and coadjutor of the apostles, was ordained bishop of Rome after St. Anaclet." And in a note, "St. Irenaeus, and Eusebius and the ancients put him only the third of Rome, although others make him the immediate successor of St. Peter. But I think it better to adhere to St. Irenaeus." Natalis Alexander (3, 19) makes Peter preside twenty-five years, then Linus twelve, then Cletus twelve, then Clement nine, but the length of time uncertain. Baronius sets them all right (35, foll.); will have Linus succeeding Peter after his death; rehearses endless discussions and opinions, but insists that Linus came first, Clement third, or even fourth, as Tertullian's verses put it, Linus, Cletus, Anacletus, Clement. But he says Anacletus came after Clement. All others make Cletus and Anacletus the same person; but for him they are all wrong, and the true order is Linus, Cletus, Clement, Anacletus; others putting, he thinks, one Cletus for Anacletus or the converse. If you wish to see confusion and contradictions, you have only to read Baronius on the first successors of Peter. Pagius insists he is all wrong.

242 D. But with all this uncertainty, it is clear that there was a succession of the followers of the apostles who presided over the see.

N*. I do not doubt that these companions of the apostles laboured in the care of the Roman assembly; but, as to succession to secure doctrine, there is none such to be found. Some will have Linus and Cletus assistants to Peter, who was often away in his lifetime. Baronius insists it was after his death they were regular bishops. Others insist Clement was the first. It is evident there was a state of things not clearly known, and that all these were efforts to reconcile this with a well-established system which prevailed when the efforts were made, and which were arranged by one one way, by another another — by scarce two alike, while the most learned of the Fathers insists it was only an arrangement to crush factions, and the most eminent confirms his thought. But this can give no security for successional grace and truth, were such an idea just.

But I see, James, your wife has something on her mind, and is only deterred from speaking by our being all here. But we are in her house, not in a church, and she is quite at liberty to say anything.

Mrs. — . I should not think of intruding, sir, on the conversation. I was only saying to James that I cannot understand what the meaning of looking for all this security for the doctrine of the apostles is, when we have the doctrine itself in their own writings.

N*. Well, I should think common sense, to say nothing of faith, which must have a divine basis, could think nothing else. But there is a human thoughtfulness about antiquity, and it looks like a feeling of reverence to make much of these ancient writers — some of them really saints and martyrs; and then you must remember that our friends here, at any rate one of them, considers, like the Pharisees of old, the tradition of the elders as part of the word of God; besides, they profess to take their interpretations of the word from these Fathers. Of this we have spoken; and as to the security of doctrine, it is nothing less than absurd to look for it in an uncertain succession of men, when we have the teaching itself given by God, and proclaimed by inspiration, which none of them can or do pretend to. We have gone into the subject because it is alleged by all Roman Catholics and Ritualists, and alleged by Milner as one of the marks of the true church. It is in that light we are now considering it. Nor can I consider Milner's statement as honest. First, he states it as unquestioned that Simon Barjonas was called a rock, which he was not, but a stone.

243 Mr. R. But it was spoken in Syriac, and the gender makes no difference.

N*. I know your advocates allege this; but you believe that, as we have it, to be inspired?

R. Undoubtedly.

N*. Well then, we have the difference made by inspiration in the sentence itself. Thou art petros, and on this rock (petra) I will build My church. And therefore it is not honest to say Peter or rock. Further, he must have known that the Vulgate and Rhemish alike say, Thou art Peter, as a name. And he was too learned not to know, what we have already seen, that half his authorities take the passage in a different sense.

Next, he gives the list of popes as if it were all a clear case, when his own historians differ entirely, and quietly says he will leave out some, as there would be too many to recount all; whereas an accurate succession, though a matter of perfect indifference to those who have the scriptures, is yet, in his point of view, quite essential; but it enables him to leave out those who would make the pretension to a regular succession a mere farce — forgive me,. gentlemen, for speaking plainly. Dr. Milner not only smooths over difficulties, but conceals the fact that there were two or three popes at a time, anathematizing and excommunicating each other, and Europe divided between them; and when one faction put down the other, and put their pope up, the latter cancelled all the ordinations of his rival, so that a book had to be written as to there being any real ordinations at all.

R. But ordination imprints a character, and cannot be destroyed or revoked.

N*. I am aware this is your theory; but here, as they held the pope to be null, they held all his acts to be null, and declared them all invalid. And, as it is, different Roman Catholic authors hold different popes to have been the true ones; and if so, where is the security of a true apostolic succession?

244 We will go rapidly through their history (not repeating the atrocities they were guilty of, but) in view of succession and apostolicity. I sum up what we have found in a few words. The scriptures, as Jerome and others, and Pope Urban, know no difference between bishops and presbyters. The same persons were called by both names, and there was no resident person holding such an office as is now called bishop. James at Jerusalem is the only appearance even of anything like it. Elsewhere, where Paul had laboured, he established bishops or presbyters. Paul founded the church among the Gentiles and established no bishops, as the word is now understood. The Fathers so called cannot give us any certain list, and historians are disagreed which is the true one, as to Antioch, Rome, and Smyrna, where there is some account of the names. When insisting on the point of succession, they contradict each other.

Then come in the Constitutions, a forgery evidently in their present form but very ancient, which give a totally different account of the matter, and make two, one established by Paul, another by Peter; the more striking because it affects alike both Antioch and Rome, where the contradictions are found, and in exactly the same way. Save this, there is no tradition making Paul the founder of any succession of the church, but Peter, who was not apostle of the Gentiles at all. Tertullian says episcopacy is to be traced to John; Jerome, that it arose from the factious spirit of the clergy.

The fair conclusion to draw is, that there was no such post or succession at the beginning, as I have already said; and that, when it had become important through feebleness of faith and want of dependence on the word of God, they tried to make it out.

R. It is a most bold conclusion against the faith and tradition of the church.

N*. It is a question of fact; and the fact you cannot prove. The scripture, by the confession of your own writers, makes no distinction between bishops and elders, and there is no consistent tradition even on the point, but quite the contrary. Nobody denies that they very soon began to have them. Then they tried to make out the list, but they did not agree.

D. Nobody can deny that bishops and elders are the same in scripture, but there were really bishops with a different name, as Timothy and Titus, whom I name because they were appointed by Paul, not to say James also at Jerusalem.

245 N*. For what sees were Timothy and Titus appointed?

D. For Ephesus and Crete.

N*. You must kindly remember that we are discussing the point of succession. I am not arguing for presbytery against episcopacy or episcopacy against presbytery. If James was bishop, he was bishop over apostles, saying, when Peter and Paul had spoken, "Wherefore my sentence is," so that Peter's primacy is gone. As to Timothy and Titus, they were left merely occasionally by the apostle Paul to watch certain cases, and sent for to go elsewhere afterwards, or to stay with him (1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:21; Phil. 2:19) when he was in prison at Rome; as to Titus, see 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 3:12: so that it is certain they were not local prelates in Paul's time, nor appointed by him to be such. I am aware you have Theodoret's authority some 300 years after for calling them apostles, but nothing in scripture. Those the church sent with money are called their messengers, as Epaphras the messenger of Colosse to Paul, who, as "messenger" in Greek is "apostolos," is so called, as the apostles were Christ's messengers. There were those of the different churches. "Apostolos" means nothing else than "one sent"; and then, being at a loss, they make him an apostle, and then say, "that is, a bishop," apostle being given up, out of modesty.

But it is a lame effort to prop up the case; for apostle means one sent, no more and no less; but, when Christ sent them, they had divine authority and commission. A resident prelate is just one who is not an apostolos. As to modesty, it does not seem to have grown much with advancing years amongst the ecclesiastics. The epistles of Ignatius do not bear much trace of it, though I do not attribute them all to him.

Here is a curious example among so many others of the frauds and forgeries perpetrated in the vaunted primitive church, which got the name of pious frauds: Gospels, Apostolic Acts, Canons, and Constitutions, Sibylline prophecies, Ignatius' Epistles, visions, even a letter from Christ. Nothing was wanting in the way of falsehood, in the early centuries of the church, to impose superstition and corruption on the ignorance they were in, and exalt the clergy at the expense of the authority of the word of God.

Bill M. But is this true, Mr. R.?

R. There is no doubt such things existed, but the church is not answerable for them; they never were received into the church.

246 N*. The Visions of Hermas, which were composed about a hundred years after Christ's death (or little more) and are not forgeries, were read in the church, and nothing could be worse. But I referred to them to shew what was the character and spirit of the times; and no honest man can deny the fact. As to Ignatius' Epistles, they were relied on, and are, by Baronius and Protestant episcopalians.

D. But some of them are true.

N*. They were interpolated, and some confessedly spurious, and now all but three pretty clearly proved to be so; and save in one passage, I think, all the bombastical language as to bishops, presbyters, and deacons has disappeared.

I refer to them to shew (by the multiplying this one passage, so exalting the bishop and putting him on a level with God or Christ) the taste of the times, that it was not modesty and lowering episcopal authority. One modern author, who accepts a great deal of them, seeks to prove by them that they were a recent introduction, and therefore so urgently insisted on as not being quite solid. But oh, what a ground is all this for faith!

But, as we have examined the source, let us examine the stream. Your traditions are not much good. The first Father, I believe, who makes Peter the first bishop, as we have seen, leaves out one and puts another in his place quite falsely. Still history helps us out pretty clearly as to the succession, and what it was worth. Only human history cannot make a divine ground for faith. Of the first popes or bishops of Rome I have only to speak in honour. The heathen emperors ruled there, and any prominence they might have exposed them the more to persecution. The church was poor and without honour, but spiritually great. Some, as Clement, Anacletus (according to some) Evaristus and Alexander, Sixtus and Telesphorus were martyrs. This was the bright time of the church; pagans in power, the church poor, but honoured of God, and a witness to Christ, suffering for Him. It suffered everywhere; but Rome, under the eye of the Roman authorities and a bigoted populace, had a large share in this honour.

R. I am glad to see you own that there was some good at Rome.

247 N*. I pay unfeigned honour to these men thus honoured of God. It is good for us in our days of ease to remember them. They were members of Christ, of that one true church, true saints, as all Christians are, and specially honoured in suffering for the blessed Lord. It was the glory of those days. It is not what you call the Fathers (a name forbidden by Christ, which I use myself merely as a well-known title) that I honour in early days, but these faithful witnesses for Christ, in all the Roman world, and not least in Rome. They were one in spirit and grace. The church was then wholly separate from the world; afterwards the popes were the head of it — not persecuted but persecutors. Superstition and heresy, however, began to invade the church of Rome under the next pope, Hyginus. These heretics Polycarp of Smyrna met, and many deceived by them were delivered, it is said, by his means. In his follower's time, Pius, the superstition increased. Hermas, his brother, with whom he is said to have been intimate, wrote pretended visions, full of the worst practice and the worst doctrines, and even blasphemies, against the Lord. Yet it is said to have been read in the churches, a fact which proves the total want of discernment in the primitive church. A greater quantity of trash could scarcely be found. He states that God took counsel with the Holy Ghost and the angels what He should do with Christ. Then He put (the, or) a holy spirit,* which He had first created, in a chosen body, and the body obeyed the holy spirit put into it, and so the body was to be rewarded, and Christ got more than had been promised, for He had done more than was prescribed to Him.

{*The utter confusion of Hermas as to the one Holy Spirit may be seen in the 10th Command, 2, 3. If it were not puerile folly, it would be outrageous heresy. In Command 6 each man has two angels.}

The similitude is this: A man with a great estate planted a vineyard, and chose a servant, and delivered the vineyard into his care. He does more than what is commanded. The Lord seeing this, calls his son, who is to be his heir, and his friends with whom he was wont to consult, and shews what the servant had done, saying he had promised him liberty, but now he would make him heir with his son, which all approved. And this was confirmed by his sharing presents from his Lord with his fellow-servants. The son in the similitude is the Holy Ghost, the friends the angels, the servant Christ.

I need not cite any more. I do thus much that we may see what was current in the church in those days.* I have already referred to this book as sanctioning the vile things called holiness in these days.

{*Hermas is quoted by the book of Roman Pontiffs, if it be the same (Bar., Pii, 159, 4, 2, vol. 2, 204), and the angelic visitation is treated as true. Origen, Eusebius, Jerome and others say he is the one mentioned by Paul, which is surely a mistake. His book is treated as excellent by Irenaeus, quoted by Eusebius, quoted by Origen, who says some did not value It, by Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian when orthodox and Catholic, but denouncing it when a Montanist; Athanasius says it is a most useful book; Jerome, following Eusebius, very useful and publicly read in churches of Greece, but not known among the Latins. Ruffinus says they had it read in churches, but not quoted as authority to establish faith.}