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selves wholly to their sacred vocation. Jewish ideas upon the subject of the priesthood unduly colored the thinking of some minds. As the heathen world had also its sacrificing priesthood, converts from within its borders not unnaturally were inclined to seek in Christianity for a counterpart to their old system of altars and officiating priests. From these several causes, there resulted a positive growth of priestly ideas and customs. As early as the closing part of the second century, there was a noticeable drift towards sacerdotalism, or the high-church theory of Christ's kingdom on earth. The freer stand-point was not yet forgotten, as appears from the statements which have been quoted from leading writers. The Church remained still, in the main, at no small distance from the full Romish conception of priestly rank and mediation. Nevertheless, the more liberal position was not maintained with clear understanding and entire consistency. Some of the writers who strongly asserted the common priesthood of believers employed also at times a phraseology which might be interpreted in favor of sacerdotalism. The convenience of a high ecclesiastical power, as a safeguard against the forces of disorder and anarchy, began so to engross the vision of many Christians, that they gave no proper attention to the dangers to personal freedom which such a power, unchecked, would be sure to involve.1

i The second book of the Apostolic Constitutions contains some statements well suited to serve as a basis of hierarchical pride and the ocratic rule. Such, for example, is the declaration that the priestly office excels the kingly by as much as the soul is more excellent than the body (ii. 34).

2. GROWTH OF EPISCOPACY. - Five different stages in the growth of the episcopal system may be noticed : (1) the establishment of the distinction between presbyters and bishops; (2) the emphasizing of the bishop's importance; (3) the rise of metropolitans, or archbishops; (4) the rise of patriarchs, or bishops having jurisdiction over important divisions of the Empire; (5) a striving after a common episcopal centre, a bishop of all bishops. These different stages were not successive in the sense that one was fully completed before another was begun: they were in part contemporaneous. Still, the order given expresses the logical succession of developments within the episcopacy.

As regards the first stage, there is much obscurity. It was probably accomplished in some regions earlier than in others. Clement of Rome, whose writings cannot well be placed earlier than the closing years of the first century, indicates no consciousness of any distinction between bishops and presbyters in the Corinthian church. He speaks of sedition, not against the authority of a bishop, but against the presbyters, and exhorts to submission to the presbyters. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles in like manner implies but two orders in the ministry. One of its directions is this, “ Appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord.”? The epistles of Ignatius, on the other hand,

2 show that in the early part of the second century, a considerable portion of the Church, especially that in Asia Minor, recognized a clear distinction between

1 Epist. ad Corinth., xlvii., lvii.

? Chapter xv. This is regarded as one of the evidences in favor of the early origin of this document.

bishops and presbyters, and regarded the former as individual heads of the different churches. How much of the Church had adopted this régime at that time, cannot be determined. Certainly, it was soon thereafter the common régime of the Church. The adoption of the new system, however, did not abolish all traces of the original identity of bishops and presbyters. Later writers now and then used terms not accurately descriptive of the ecclesiastical constitution of their own times, terms indicative of a different and more primitive order. Irenæus, for example, calls those who possessed “ the succession from the apostles " presbyters in some instances, while in other connections he names them bishops. Even Cyprian, in one of his epistles, names the presbyters under him compresbyteros; and the Ambrosian Hilary in the fourth century wrote, “ He is bishop, qui inter presbyteros primus est.”

By what authority was this change, which elevated one man in each local church above the board of presbyters, and caused him to be known distinctively as the bishop, effected? Was it the product of a positive apostolic appointment, or was it simply a natural outcome from the conditions, and finding its principal sanction in general consent? It would be difficult to prove that no one of the apostles, especially the Apostle John, whose administration of the churches of Asia Minor extended nearly to the close of the first century, had any thing to do with the change. On the other hand, the proof of any apostolic supervision of the matter is equally wanting. To be sure, in the time of Irenæus, it was somewhat customary to speak of a regular succession of bishops from the apostles onwards; but this habit may have resulted in large part from a disposition to judge past by existing conditions, and might very naturally have been indulged if the connecting links with the great majority of the apostles were not bishops proper, but only leading and influential presbyters. In fact, the language of Irenæus, as cited above, suggests that the connection may have been made in this way.

1 Cont. Hær., iii. 2. 2; iv. 26. 2.

It is easily conceivable that the office of bishop grew up by a gradual development, which had its startingpoint in the board of presbyters. This board in the several churches would naturally come to have its presiding officer. Men of the greatest energy and ability would be called to fill this position. The interests of unity and efficient management would cause more and more power to be delegated to them, until they should become really the chiefs of the churches, or bishops proper. Analogy also may be quoted in favor of this theory. Other stages in the growth of the hierarchy were effected much in the manner here indicated for the first stage. By gradual advances, one bishop overtopped the other bishops in his neighborhood, and finally assumed toward them the relation of archbishop. Even among the deacons distinctions grew up, and one of the body in the different churches became known as the archdeacon. Surely it is no far-fetched suggestion, that a similar development raised one of the early presbyters in the various congregations to the rank of archpresbyter, and then carried him over the short interval between that and the priinitive bishop. That episcopacy originated in this way, is the conclusion of not a few scholars, even in a Church which has made much of apostolic succession. Bishop Lightfoot says of the evidences in the case, “ They show that the episcopate was created out of the presbytery. They show that this creation was not so much an isolated act as a progressive development, not advancing everywhere at a uniform rate, but exhibiting at one and the same time different stages of growth in different churches."i Dean Stanley indorses the same view. The exigencies of the times, as he teaches, gave origin to the episcopal system by reenforcing “the almost universal law, which, even in republics, engenders a monarchical element.” 2

The first bishops were generally bishops of individual churches. In the larger cities, a number of congregations may have been under a single bishop, but these congregations were regarded as branches of the one city church. Each separate community had, as a rule, its own bishop. This is sufficiently proved by the great number of bishops found within a given territory. “ From the small province of proconsular Asia, fortytwo bishops were present at an early council ; in the only half-converted province of North Africa, four hundred and seventy episcopal towns are known by name." 3 “Sometimes a bishopric,” says Pressensé, “comprised only a hamlet. We read in the Coptic Constitution : • Is there a spot where the little company of believers, competent to elect a bishop, does not amount to twelve, let them write to the neighboring churches, if these are

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i Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, Dissertation I. 2 Christian Institutions.

3 Edwin Hatch, Organization of Early Christian Churches. In the view of Hatch, management of the finances was a large part of the function of the primitive bishop.

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