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equals enjoyed, was by right of constitution, not by free will of condescending. And yet thus far Irenæus makes against them, as in that very place to call Polycarpus an apostolical presbyter. But what fidelity his relations had in general, we cannot sooner learn than by Eusebius, who, near the end of his third book, speaking of Papias, a very ancient writer, one that had heard St. John, and was known to many that had seen and been acquainted with Qthers of the apostles, but being of a shallow wit, and not 'understanding those traditions which he received, filled his writings with many new doctrines, and fabulous conceits: he tells us there, that " divers ecclesiastical men, and Irenæus among the rest, while they looked at his' antiquity, became infected with his errours." Now, if Irenæus was so rash as to take unexamined opinions from an author of so small capacity, when he was a man, we should be more rash ourselves to rely upon those observations which he made when he was a boy. And this may be a sufficient reason to us why we need no longer muse at the spreading of many idle traditions so soon after the apostles, while such as this Papias had the throwing them about, andf the inconsiderate zeal of the next age, that heeded more she person than the doctrine, had the gathering them up. Wherever a man, who had been any way converfant with the apostles, was to be found, thither flew all the inquisitive ears, although the exercise of right instructing was changed into the curiosity of impertinent fabling: where the mind was to be edified with solid doctrine, there the fancy was soothed with solemn stories: with less fervency was studied what St. Paul or St. John had written, than was listened to one that could fay, Here he taught, here he stood, this was his stature; and thus he went habited ; and, O happy this house that harboured him, and that cold stone whereon he rested, this village wherein he wrought such a miracle, and that pavement bedewed with the warm effusion of his last blood, that sprouted up into eternal roses to crown his martyrdom. Thus, while all thei£ thoughts were poured out upon circumstances, and the gazing after such men as had fat at table with the apostles (many of which Christ hath profesied, yea, though they had cast out devils in his name, he will not know at the last
F a day), day), by this means they lost their time, and truanted irt' the fundamental grounds of faving knowledge, as was seen shortly by their writings. Lastly, for Irenæus, we have, cause to think him less judicious in his reports from handto hand of what the apostles did, when we find him so negligent in keeping the faith which they wrote, as to fay in his third book against heresies, that " the obedience ofMary was the cause of falvation to herself and all mankind and in his fifth book, that " as Eve was seduced to fly God, so the virgin Mary was persuaded to obeyGod, that the virgin Mary might be made the advocate' of the virgin Eve." Thus if Irenæus, for his nearness to the apostles, must be the patron of episcopacy to us, it is no marvel though he be the patron of idolatry to the papist, for the fame cause. To the epistle of those brethren of Smyrna, that write the martyrdom of Polycarpus, and style him an apostolical and prophetical doctor, and bishop of the church of Smyrna, I could be content to give some credit for the great honour and affection which I see those brethren bear him; and not undeservedly, if it be true, which they there fay, that he was a prophet, and
which they could hear, but the rest could not for the noise and tumult that was in the place; and besides, if his body were so precious to the christians, that he was never wont to pull off' his shoes for one or other that still strove to have the office, that they might come in to touch his feet; yet a light scruple or two \ would gladly be resolved in: if Polycarpus (who, as they fay, was a prophet that never failed in what he foretold) had declared to his , friends, that he knew, by vision, he should die no other death. than burning, how it came to pass that the fire, when it came to proof, would not do his work, but starting off like a full sail from the mast, did but reflect 3 golden light upon his unviolated limbs, exhaling such a sweet odour, as if all the incense of Arabia had been burning; insomuch that when the billmen saw that the fire was overawed, and could not do the deed, one of them steps to him and stabs him with a sword, at which wound such abundance of blood gushed forth as quenched the
comfort him at his death, guilty of his death, and then how can his prophecy, be fulfilled? Next, how the standers-by could be so soon weary of such a glorious sight, and such a fragrant smell, as to hasten the executioner to put out the fire with the martyr's blood; unless perhaps they thought, as in all perfumes, that the smoak would be more odorous than the flame: yet these good brethren fay he was bishop of Smyrna. No man questions it, if bishop and presbyteiwere anciently all one, and how does it appear by any, thing in this testimony that they were not? If among his other high titles of prophetical, apostolical, and most admired of those times, he be also styled bishop of the church of Smyrna in a kind of speech, which the rhetoricians call Kxt Ifyxjm, for his excellence fake, as being the most famous of all the Smyrnian presbyters; it cannot be proved neither from this nor that other place of Irenæus, that he was therefore in distinct and monarchical order above the other presbyters; it is more probable, that if the whole presbytery had been as renowned as he, they would have termed every one of them severally bishop of Smyrna. Hence it is, that we read sometimes of two bishops in one place; and had all the presbyters there been of like worth, we might perhaps have read of twenty.
Tertullian accosts us next, (for Polycrates hath had his answer) whose testimony, state but the question right,is of no more force to deduce episcopacy, than the two former. He fays, that the church of Smyrna had Polycarpus placed there by John, and the church of Rome, Clement ordained by Peter; and so the rest of the churches did show what bishops they had received by the appointment of the apostles. None of this will be contradicted, for we have it out of the scripture that bishops or presbyters, which were the fame, were left by the apostles in every church, and they might perhaps give some special charge to Clement, or Polycarpus, or Linus, and put some special trust in them for the experience they had of their faith and constancy; it remains yet to be evinced out of this and the like places, which will never be, that the word bishop is otherwise taken, than in the language of St. Paul and The Acts, for an order above preibyters.
F 4 Wo We grant them bishops, we grant them worthy men, we> grant them placed in several churches by the apostles ; we grant that Irenæus and Tertullian affirm this, but that they were placed in a superior order above the presbytery, show from all these words why we should grant. It is not enough to fay the apostle left this man bishop in Rome, and that other in Ephesus, but to show when they altered their own decree set down by St. Paul, and made all the presbyters underlings to one bishop. But suppose Tertullian had made an imparity where none was originally, should he move us, that goes about to prove an imparity between God the Father, and God the Son, as these words import in his book against Praxeas ?" The Father is the whole substance, but the Son a derivation, and portion of the whole, as he himself professes, because the Father is greater than me." Believe him now for a faithful relater of tradition, whom you fee such an unfaithful expounder of the scripture: besides, in his time, all allowable tradition was now lost. For this fame author, whom you bring to testify the ordination of Clement to the bishopric of Rome by Peter, testifies also, in the beginning of his treatise concerning chastity, that the bishop of Rome did then use to send forth his edicts by the name of Pontifex Maximus, and Epifcopus Episcoporum, chief priest, and bishop of bishops: for shame then do not urge that authority to keep up a bishop, that will necessarily engage you to set up a pope. As little can your advantage be from Hegesippus, an historian of the fame time, not extant, but cited by Eufebius: his words are, that " in every city all things so stood in his time as the law, and the prophets, and our Lord, did preach." If they flood so, then flood not bishops above presbyters; for what our Lord and his disciples taught, God be thanked, we have no need to go learn of him; and you may as well hope to persuade us out of the fame author, that James the brother of our Lord was a Nazarite, and that to him only it was lawful to enter into the holy of holies; that his food was not upon any thing that had life, fish or flesh; that he used no woollen garments, but only linen, and so as he trifles on.
Jf therefore the tradition of the church were now grown
. . so so ridiculous, and disconsenting from the doctrine of the apostles, even in those points which were of least moment to men's particular ends, how well may we be assured it was much more degenerated in point of episcopacy and precedency, things which could afford such plausible pretences, such commodious traverses for ambition and avarice to lurk behind?
As for those Britain bishops which you cite, take heed what you do; for our Britain bishops, less ancient than these, were remarkable for nothing more than their poverty, as Sulpitius Severus and Beda can remember you of examples good store.
Lastly, (for the fabulous Metaphrastes is not worth an answer,) that authority of Clemens Alexandrinusis not to be found in all his works; and wherever it be extant, it is in controversy, whether it be Clement's or no; or if it were, it fays only that Saint John in some places constituted bishops: questionless he did, but whefe does Clemens fay he set them above presbyters? No man will gainfay the constitution of bishops: but the raising them to a superior and distinct order above presbyters, seeing the gospel makes them one and the fame thing, a thoufand such allegations as these will not give prelatical episcopacy one chapel of ease above a parish church. And thus much for this cloud I cannot fay rather than petty fog of witnesses, with which episcopal men would cast a mist before us, to deduce their exalted episcopacy from apostolic times. Now, although, as all men well know, it be the wonted shift of errour, and fond opinion, when they find themselves outlawed by the Bible, and forfaken of sound reason, to betake them with all speed to their old startinghole of tradition, and that wild and overgrown covert of antiquity, thinking to farm there at large room, and fine good stabling, yet thus much their own deified antiquity betrays them to inform us, that tradition hath had very seldom or never the gift of persuasion; as that which chinch histories report of those east and western paschalists, formerly spoken of, will declare. Who would have thought that Polycarpus on the one side could have erred in what he law St. John do, or Anicetus bishop of Rome on the other side, in what he or some of 7 his