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He has fought the good fight. He has finished his course. has kept the faith.* "The prisoner of the Lord," he now awaits in Nero's dungeon the triumph of his faith and patience in the passage to his glorious martyr's crown.
But, though in chains himself, the word of God cannot be bound. From the damp and darkness of that Roman prison, it goes forth to distant Asia Minor. By the shore of the Ægæan sea there is a young man, born in Lystra of Lycaonia, by parentage, half Greek, half Jew,‡ on whom the spirit of the Apostle with his office has descended. It is to him, the dearly beloved Timothy, his own son in the faith, his successor in the oversight of the Ephesian elders, that the latest message of his care for all the Churches is addressed,-charging him before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, to preach the word, to do the whole work of an Evangelist, and to make full proof of his apostolic ministry.
From the date of this epistle,§ more than seventeen hundred years have rolled away. Paul and Timothy have joined “the noble army of martyrs." The dynasty of the Cæsars has left scarcely a single vestige beyond its record on the roll of history. Rome, from the mastery of the world, has dwindled into helplessness and dependence. Instead of magnificent Ephesus, the traveller hardly finds a few mean huts, hid among bushes and ruins. And yet, here are we, three thousand miles beyond what was then deemed "the utmost bounds of the west," rejoicing in the blessed shadow of the Church which Apostles planted,—the letters which Paul wrote are before us, as fresh, and as instinct with fire from heaven, as when they first fell from his inspired pen,the office which Timothy, by the laying on of Paul's hands,|| held and exercised, is transmitted, in an unbroken line, entire and perfect, to our time,-and when, from a thousand miles still farther west, a presbyter, such as Paul sent for to Ephesus,** is commended to us by the Church, to receive the authority which Titus had in Crete, " to set in order the things that are wanting, and to ordain elders in every city,"†† we find in the letter which Paul wrote, from Nero's prison in Rome, to Timothy at
* 2 Timothy iv. 7. + 2 Timothy ii. 9. † Acts xvi. 1. $A. D. 65. || 2 Tim. i. 6. ¶ The sentiment of Ignatius, in his epistle to the Ephesians, (sec. 3,) seems beautifully prophetic,-"The Bishops, appointed unto the utmost bounds of the earth, are by the will of Jesus Christ."
**Acts xx. 17. tt Titus i. 5. ‡‡ 2 Timothy i. 8, 16; ii. 9.
Ephesus,* the warrant of our office, and the theme of our exhortation.
My Christian brethren, "what hath God wrought!"+ How strangely, while all that is mortal, that is human, that is earthly, perishes from the earth, does he preserve, establish, and extend his Church! How wonderful the providence, how unsearchable the riches of that grace, which, in the completion of its plans for saving ruined man, brings together, as one in Jesus Christ, the distant and dissimilar,-deals with a thousand years as with a single day,-identifies, in apostolic order, as well as in evangelical truth, the Church in Ephesus with the Church in Tennessee,— and, by the holy hands of that venerable father, in whose presence with us here we all rejoice, extends throughout an empire far greater than all that the Apostles traversed, and perpetuates, we trust, to children's children, "an inheritance for ever," the ministry, the discipline, and the worship of the Church which Christ established in the earth!
For the extension of a plan so truly wonderful in its origin, in its prosecution, and in its permanence, we are assembled here today. An extensive portion of the vineyard of the Lord awaits the completion of its ecclesiastical organization. The chain of apostolic succession, as it exists in the American Church, is to be extended by the addition to it of another link. A shepherd of souls is to be sent out, to gather into the fold, and guard from grievous wolves, Christ's sheep which are dispersed abroad. A Bishop is to be consecrated in the Church of God.
* Compare 2 Timothy iv. 19, Acts xviii. 19. † Numbers xxiii. 23.
By the singular and merciful providence of God, the Right Reverend William White, D. D., who, on the fourth day of February, 1787, was consecrated Bishop of the diocese of Pennsylvania, in the Chapel at Lambeth, by Dr. Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury; Dr. Markham, Archbishop of York, Dr. Moss, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Dr. Hinchliff, Bishop of Peterborough, being present and assisting, still survives, in the 86th year of his age, and 47th year of his episcopate, the presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and was the consecrator on this occasion. Bishop Onderdonk, of Pennsylvania, Bishop Onderdonk, of New-York, and Bishop Doane, of New Jersey, were present and assisting.
The OFFICE OF A BISHOP, then,
I. Its nature,
II. Its objects,
III. Its duties, and
IV. Its responsibilities,—
becomes the fitting topic of discourse. Involving, as it does, considerations the most interesting, and claims the most momentous, that can be held or made on earth, and taking in, in its results, eternity and heaven, will you not favour me, my Christian brethren, with your attention, and succour me with your prayers, while, in the pure and steady light of Scripture, I attempt its candid investigation? And thou, "O holy Jesus, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church, and hast promised to be with the ministers of apostolic succession to the end of the world,"* be with thy servants now, that what shall be spoken and done here this day, being accompanied by thy grace, and crowned with thy blessing, may be acceptable in thy sight, accelerate the triumphs of thy holy Apostolic Church, and, in the salvation of many souls, promote thy glory, who, with the Father, and the ever-blessed Spirit, art one in the eternal Godhead!
I. The office of a Bishop cannot be better defined, than in the words of excellent Bishop Hall,-" Now we take Episcopacy, as it is thus punctually differenced, in an eminence from the two inferior orders of presbyter and deacon, so as to define it thus,'Episcopacy is an eminent order of sacred function, appointed by the Holy Ghost, in the evangelical Church, for the governing and overseeing thereof; and, for that purpose, besides the administration of the word and sacraments, endued with power of imposition of hands, and perpetuity of jurisdiction." "†
Of this definition, we take these to be the points, to be referred severally to Scripture for proof and illustration;—that there are three orders of "sacred function," or of the ministry, Apostles and their successors, known as bishops; presbyters, or elders, called in the time of the Apostles, bishops; and deacons,-that of
* Prayer in the Institution service. † Episcopacy by Divine Right.
these, "episcopacy," or the office of a Bishop, is the "eminent order,"-endued with power of imposition of hands, and jurisdiction,—and this, perpetually, for the governing and overseeing of the evangelical Church,—and that all this is by appointment of the Holy Ghost.
1. "That from the Apostles' time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church,-bishops, priests, and deacons," the Church, in the preface to the Ordinal, declares" is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors." Our present reference is to Holy Scripture alone. "Paul and Timotheus"*-the one an Apostle, the other having the power of ordination, or a proper Bishop,-address themselves, as "servants of Jesus Christ," "to all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi, with the bishops," then the interchangeable appellation of presbyters,† or elders, "and the deacons." Here are certainly three orders.-Paul, an Apostle, writing to Timothy, who is elsewhere called an Apostle also,‡ gives him particular directions as to an order of ministers whom he calls bishops, (the same who, in another place, are called elders, or presbyters,)§ and also as to an order inferior|| to them, whom he calls deacons. Here, certainly, are three orders.
2. That of these, the Episcopal, called at first, the Apostolic, is "the eminent order," appears from what has been already stated, and from the whole tenor of the Acts, and all the succeeding portions of the New Testament. It was Paul, an Apostle, who sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church. It was James, an Apostle, who, when the Church at Jerusalem were assembled in council, gave sentence. It was Paul, and Peter, and James, and John, and Jude, Apostles, who, moved by the Holy Ghost, composed the several canonical epistles. And, finally, it is to the Angels, Messengers, or Bishops of the Asiatic Churches, (Ephesus, to which Timothy was sent, with authority over presbyters and deacons, being one,) that St. John, in the Revelations, addresses himself," unto the Angel of the Church at Ephesus write,”"thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and are not and hast found them liars."**
Philippians, i. 1. + The elders (presbyters) of Ephesus, Acts, xx. 17, are, in verse 28 called overseers, literally bishops. Compare 1 Thess. i. 1, with ii. 6. § Acts, xx. 17. ** Revelations, ii. 2.
1 Timothy, iii. 13. T Acts, xv. 19.
3. That the Episcopal, or " eminent order," the Apostles first, and then the Bishops, were endued with power of imposition of hands, and jurisdiction, may easily be shown. The Apostles, by imposition of their hands,* ordained Stephen, Philip, and others, the first deacons of the Church, whom we afterwards find preaching and baptizing.† Paul and Barnabas, Apostles, ordained them elders in every Church. The gift of God which was in Timothy, was in him by the putting on of Paul's hands. And both he and Titus had received from Paul the double power of ordination and jurisdiction; the commission to the latter being, "for this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things which are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee,"||-and the injunction to the former being, “lay hands suddenly on no man;"¶ "against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses;"**"let these also be first proved, then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."++
4. The power thus given to the Episcopacy, or highest order in the ministry, was designed to be perpetual by succession. Jesus said to the eleven, "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."‡‡ And again, as my Father sent me, even so send I you."§§ And again, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." And, to the same purport, Paul to Timothy, "the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also ;"T¶ "to the intent," says the same Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, "that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God,"***"unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end."††† 5. The governing and overseeing of the Church, thus to be petuated through its instrumentality, is an obvious purpose of the office of a Bishop. Paul, at Miletus, sent to Ephesus, and
*Acts, vi. 6. † Acts, viii. 38, 40.
¶ 1 Timothy, v. 22. ** 1 Timo. v. 19.
Acts, xiv. 23. § 2 Timothy, i. 6. || Titus, i. 5. tt 1 Timo. iii. 10. St. Matthew, xxviii. 19. The marginal reading offers, as, in the opinion of the translators, equally near the original with the word "teach," which is in the text-" make disciples, or Christians, of all nations, baptizing them," &c. St. John, xx. 21. II St. Matthew, xxviii. 20. TT 2 Timo ttt Ephesians, iii. 21.
ii. 2. *** Ephesians, iii. 10.