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“ Bishop Stillingfleet, in Irenicum, maintains that the stoutest champions for Episcopacy had admitted that ordination by presbyters, in case of necessity, is valid.”
Does Dr. Smith really mean, that this was Stillingfleet's honest and deliberate opinion ? We would have expected such language from such a man as Mr. Shimeall, or even Dr. Miller. The real facts were these. The “Irenicum” was published in 1659 ; when its author was only twenty-four years of age ; and he afterwards solemnly and publicly retracted the opinions there expressed. Thus, in his preface to the “ Unreasonableness of Separation," he says :-“Will you not allow. one single person, who happened to write about these matters, when he was very young, in twenty years time of the most busy and thoughtful part of his life, to see reason to alter his judgment ?” And, at an Ordination Sermon at St. Paul's, in 1684, twenty-five years after the “ Irenicum,” he says, “I cannot find any argument of force in the New Testament to prove that ever the Christian Churches were under the sole government of Presbyters.” “ There is as great reason to believe the Apostolic Succession to be of divine institution, as the Canon of Scripture, or the observation of the Lord's day.” “ This Succession was not in mere presidency of order, but the Bishops succeeded the Apostles in the government over those Churches.” And again, he says, in his “Charge on the duties and rights of the Clergy,” “they who go about to unbishop Timothy and Titus, may as well unscripture the Epistles that were written to them.” “We have no greater assurance that these Epistles were written by St. Paul, than that there were Bishops to succeed the Apostles in the care and government of the Churches."
This is the honest opinion of Stillingfleet, given in the full maturity of his ripe learning, and after he had publicly re- canted the hastily avowed expressions of his earlier years.
Dr. Smith quotes Bramhall ! in support of these loose views of the Ministry. Has he read Bramhall ? Bramhall not only asserts, but proves, that the majority of the Continental Reformers approved, and desired to retain, the Order of Bishops ; and he cites Blondell, Calvin, the Confessions of Augsburg and Saxony, Melancthon, Moulin, the Prussians, Spanheim, Zanchy, Zwingle, Beza, and Salmatius. Bramhall declares, that the deliberate rejection of Episcopacy is a form of gross Schism ; and he even raises the question, whether such persons can be regarded as being within the pale of the Church at all. Nay, Bramhall shows that the very men whom Dr. Smith cites as having been invited from the Continent to teach Divinity in Cambridge and Oxford, Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr, that even they, held the Order of Bishops to have been appointed by the Holy Ghost, and to be agreeable to the Word of God. It is the descendants of those Continental reformers, who have changed their position on this subject; not the Church of England.
As one more illustration of Dr. Smith's method of citing authorities, here is what he says of Archbishop Laud :
"A man who, notwithstanding bis admitted piety and devotion, could contemplate the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope by the Church of England, who actually hesitated whether he should accept a Cardinal's hat from Rome, and who was executed as a traitor to the liberties of his country, in not the man, in my opinion, whose principles are to determine the interpretation of the standards of our Church."
We are not among those who profess unqualified admiration of the Archbishop's character and conduct. But in all the slander heaped upon the memory of that great, learned, and good man, we have never seen so much absolute misrepresentation in so few words. Laud's effective service in rescuing the Church of England from the moulding grasp of Puritanism, was the true secret of his own death, and of the undying hate with which the same party have ever since pursued him. Even Toulmin, in his edition of Neal's History of the Puritans, says, quoting Mrs. Macaulay :-“It is plain that he fell a sacrifice to the intolerant principle of the Presbyterians; a Sect who breathed as fiery a spirit of persecution, as himself.”*
In respect to the charge that Laud was at heart a Papist ; it is of course a mere repetition of the old Puritan falsehood. Here is the way in which Laud himself met it at his trial :
* Vol. III. p. 252.
“I have converted several from Popery; I have framed an oath for ahjuring it; I have made a Canon against it; I have written a book against it; I have held a controversy against it; I have been twice offered a Cardinal's Cap, and refused it; I have been in danger of my life from a Popish plot; I have endeavored to reconcile the Luther. ans and the Calvinists; and, ergo, I have endeavored to bring in Popery."*
It is really a severe tax upon one's equanimity, to see a man like Dr. Smith, at this late day, and in such a connection, reviving that old unmitigated falsehood against Archbishop Laud. Has he ever read Laud's Correspondence with Vossius, and seen, there, what Laud thought about Popery ? Has he ever read Laud's Answer to Fisher, the Jesuit ; which "Laud himself alluded to at his Trial ? Of that book, Sir Edward Dering, no friend to Laud, said :
“ That in his Book against Fisher, the Jesuit, he had muzzled the Jesuit; and would strike the Papists under the fifth rib when he was dead and gone; and being dead, wherever his grave should be, Paul's would be his perpetual monument, and his own book, his epitaph."
But Dr. Smith has told us where he has been for his authorities ; we trust enough has been already said to show how much these authorities are worth. Yet William Goode will be quoted hereafter, as he has been heretofore, without the slightest intimation that he has been proved a false witness. The world's people” look on such trickery, and say it is not honest. The “ world's people" are right. The last few pages of Dr. Smith's Letter, we are most sorry
While he makes a mortifying disclosure of his own opinions, he travels beyond the record to charge upon the Bishop's interpretation of the obvious Law of the Church, a connection “with principles which are subversive of the whole plan of salvation;" and then strives to deepen the opprobrium, by the free use of the cant phraseology of the past few years
of bitter controversy. All this from a Presbyter to his Bishop! and then published to the world—the Bish p’s Pastoral and his own censure-published, side by side, in another Diocese, and that Diocese, Massachusetts ! Really, the assurance of Calvinism is something wonderful.
* Grant's English Church and Sects, Vol. II. p. 225.
Dr. Smith denies Episcopal Orders” to be the one Ministry “established by Christ through His Apostles, and designed to be permanent in the Church,” even as an arbitrary arrangement. He declares such a claim to be “wanting in historic evidence, and unphilosophical, not to say unscriptural, in character.” This is certainly the most remarkable, and the most reckless statement lately put forth by anybody professing to be a Churchman. If Jesus Christ established any Ministry for His Church, to be the permanent Ministry of that Church, and nobody but an extreme radical denies it,—and as the Rev. Dr. John Cotton Smith denies that Ministry to be a Ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the only question is, what Denomination he does really belong to ? Here is, doubtless, the whole secret of his late official conduct. He may be very honest in his opinions; we do not question this. He simply occupies a false position; and instead of reading Homilies to his Bishop, and warning the public against the teachings of his Bishop! he ought rather to confess his own theoretical and practical inconsistency. Perhaps he holds that Christ, through His Inspired Apostles, established a Church, but no particular Church ; a Creed, but no particular Creed ; Sacraments, but no particular Sacraments ; a Ministry, but no particular Ministry ; a Lord's Day, but no particular Lord's Day; a Canon of Scripture, but no particular Canon of Scripture. and if he can be an Episcopalian, or a Presbyterian, or an Independent, on occasion ; so, also, he can and must, to be consistent with himself, be both a Baptist and a Pædo-Baptist ; a Seventh-day and a First-day Baptist; and he must hold to . one Sacrament, or two Sacraments, or half a dozen ; he may, and must, reject one or another, or all the Books of the New Testament, as may be thought expedient. If there is a rule that prevents this, that same rule, as a matter of fact, binds him to a Three-fold Ministry.
We assure Dr. Smith, that he has not over-estimated the importance of the subject which he has gone out of the way to introduce, when he says, it involves “some great principle in the Christian System.” The New York Observer, too, commenting on Dr. Smith's Letter, says :
“ It is a question that touches the headship of the Church itself, the reality of membership with Christ, the personal salvation of professing Christians, the very marrow of Christianity. For all these things are necessarily involved in the doctrine of the validity of ordinances, which are appointed for the communication of spiritual gifts to the human race.”
So far from differing from Dr. Smith and the New York 06server, as to the importance of the principle involved, they have not begun to estimate the extent of its bearings, and the weight of its import. Aside from the great question of the nature of Ministerial and Sacramental Offices, and their true place in the Christian System, which is altogether a distinct question, yet the argument itself for a Three-fold Ministry, covers, as we have seen, all the Institutions of Christianity; not only Infant Baptism, and the Lord's-Day, but the Canon and Inspiration of Scripture, the Creeds, the Doctrine of the Trinity, &c., &c. They all stand, or they all fall, together, inevitably. The whole history of German and New England Development is proving, as clear as the day, that if Private Judgment and Self-Will will set aside one, they will set aside them all. There is a great principle involved, indeed. The argument, in its natural and inevitable consequences, reaches, what all must confess to be, the very “ marrow of Christianity.”
In leaving Dr. Smith's Letter, therefore, we commend to his special attention the proof of the Divine appointment and perpetual obligation of the Three-fold Ministry, as given in the Sermons of Bishop Griswold and Bishop McIlvaine. This is the burden of their argument, and the argument is unanswered, and unanswerable. Such a Ministry, so appointed, is, and must be, practically, and so far as the Church is concerned, exclusive of all man-made Ministries. Bishop Potter has stated this matter clearly ; and fair-minded men of all denominations will respect the position. He says, in his Pastoral :
" For many of those Ministers, fof non-Episcopal bodies, as individuals, I feel great respect and regard. I honor them for their talents and for their piety. With not a few of them I have lived in private life in habits of most friendly intercourse. But I strongly approve of the principles and Law of the Church. I consider myself bound by her authority, having given my assent to it when I became