Page images

all parts of the world, and they being commanded to make all nations disciples, to go into all the world, and to preach the gospel to every creature, (Matt. xviii. 19.) could not be long fixed to any one place; yet it was necessary that pastors and teachers should be settled among all believers, who might continue: to instruct and teach them, to offer up prayers for them in the public assemblies, and to administer the facrament to them. Hereupon they ordained them elders in every church ; (Acts i. 14. 23.) that is, a bishop with a competent number of presbyters and deacons to assist him, as will be evident from what shall be faid hereafter. (Heb. xiii. 7. 17.) There were rulers of the church wherein they were placed, and the people were commanded to obey them. But though they were rulers, yet their authority extended not over the whole church, but only that flock over which the Holy Ghost (Acts xx. 28.) had made them overseers or bishops. They were fixed to a particular place, and the spiritual government of all persons within those limits was committed to them; and in this division into particular districts (which was prudential at the apostles discretion) the general division of the empire was observed. It was necessary that particular churches

division gene

dated to the

should be circumscribed within certain bounds; but it was indifferent where those boundaries should be fixed. The apostles therefore took the limits already laid out for them, and accordingly fettled churches, and either (Tit. i. 1. 5.) ordained themselves, or appointed others to ordain elders in every city,

or city by city, as Dr. Hammond renders it. The spiritual

And herein they thought it expedient strictly Tally accommo- to observe the imperial division; so that the civil division of council of Calcedon decreed, (6 Can. 17.) dioceses.

that if the emperor should change the condition of a city by his authority, the order of the parish churches should follow the civil constitution. Thus the power of these elders was confined within the compass of that particular city and its territories, where they were ordained to minister; and all within those limits were under their care and jurisdiction. They were, indeed, bishops and presbyters of the universal church, (for the true church is but one and the same in all parts of the world) but for the sake of decency and order, and that each pastor might know his own peculiar flock, it was necessary, that the catholic church should be divided into particular churches." For * " whilst our Sa

* Account of Church Government and Governors, p. 36, 37

[ocr errors]

viour lived on earth, he ruled and governed his church personally; and though the apostles could preach, and baptize, and pronounce remission of fins, which is the priests office now, yet could they not perform the functions of the episcopal office, to give others a commission to preach the gospel. But when Christ was risen, and ready to ascend into heaven, then he enlarged the apostolic power, and gave them authority to collect and settle churches, and to give commissions to others, as he himself had done. As my Father hath fert me, says he, even fo I send you. And when be bad said this, be, breathed on them, saying, receive ye the Holy Ghost. (Joh. XX. 21.)”.

[ocr errors][merged small]

C H A P. XI.


[ocr errors]

More disputes about the title to the prerogatives, than about the prerogatives themfelves.

T may be generally remarked, that the

difference or dispute between most writers, is not so much about the prerogatives of the crown, as about the right and title to them. I have already endeavoured to render my opinion upon this matter unequivocal and explicit ; and the consequence of that opinion is, that as a member of the community, I entertain the most dutiful attachment to the person, in whom the community vests the executive power of the legislature, and the most awful and respectful deference for the diftinguished and exalted properties, prerogatives, and powers, with which the community has found it adviseable to dignify him. Mr. Acherley, in a sort of allegorical exposition or direction of what this supreme head of the body ought to be, says, *“ That the first and most excellent estate, or supreme head of this great body, should be a political supreme office, to guide and conduct the rest, and, for that reason, should be raised

* Britannic Conftitution, p. 39.

[ocr errors]

above the rest, which should be the glory of the nation ; and that, to add majesty, it should

The general be crowned with a crown of pure gold, the crown

prerogatives of adorned with the richest gems, as caput regni; that to this crown there should be annexed royal and fovereign rights and prerogatives, which should give it a lustre and a veneration suitable to the most excellent dignity; that the single person, who should be declared supreme governor or head, to execute and administer this highest office, and to wear this crown, should be stiled king, and should have fuch honours paid him, as are due to royal and imperial majesty; and that a throne should be raised for him, on which he should sit, when he performs the highest acts of vernment; and that his person should be exempted from all coercive and offensive acts of violence whatsoever, upon or for any reason or pretence of any reason whatso- . ever; and that the first person, who should be declared king, and all succeeding kings, should, at or soon after his assuming to exercise the regal power, be crowned with the greatest folemnity.” And in another part of the same work, he describes the monarchy or regal office in this manner: *“ The bu


* Acherley's Brit. Constit. p. 59.


« PreviousContinue »