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founded is the opinion of those who imagine that there is little evidence for the truth of Christianity. And how idle and presumptuous is their conduct, who pass by the strongest evidence with indolent contempt, found their infidelity upon their ignorance, and charge others with weakness for knowing what they would not learn, and appreciating evidence which they would not examine.


For the Calvinistic Magazine.



DIALOGUES ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT, Containing a Brief Review of "A Vindication of Methodist Epis

copacy, by the Rev. Nathan Bangs." After having finished these four dialogues, a little work, by Me. Nathan Bangs, handsomely written, was put into my hands by a friend, entitled, “A Vindication of Methodist Episcopacy." I read it with avidity, hoping he might be able to shew, that the objections made to the Methodist church in the Dialogues, did not fairly lie against it; but I have been disappointed; he has not obviated one objection; and if his talents and zeal have failed to remove the ob. jections, it confirms me in the opinion, that they cannot be answered. He has discussed some of the very points considered in the diar logues. In his first chapter, he begins with Deacons; who, he says, were ministers or preachers inferior to elders. That those who were first appointed Deacons, did afterward preach, and even fill the office of Evangelist, is not denied. But it is denied that they were either preachers or Evangelists in consequence of their election and ordination as Deacons, and Mr. Bangs has not proved that they were. He has only shewn, that some who were at first Deacons, were afterwards preachers. But they might have been raised to the work of the ministry by election and ordination in the common way, or have been called to it, as other extraordinary officers were, Did Mr. B. never know a man who had been appointed a steward, afterwards to become a preacher in the Methodist church? Yet it would not be correct to say, that he was a minister in consequence of his having been appointed a steward. Yet this would be as correct as Mr. B's reasoning on the subject of the office of Deacon. Mr. B. asserts, that the Methodist cắurch have deacons, inferior to elders, and says in this, “we are apostolic.” Pages 17, 18, 19. But Mr. B. must prove two things before his assertion of being apostolic, can be adınitted. Ist. That deacons were ministers of the Vol. II.


word, as a matter of course, from their being deacons. This he has pot done. 2d. That after they became ministers, they were infe. rior to elders. This last he has attempted. His first argument is, these men were emphatically so called (deacons,) because, it is supposed, they were appointed to serve the apostles.” Now if it was even true, that they were appointed to serve the apostles, would it follow that they were therefore inferior to elders? If so, the evangelists were inferior to elders, for Mr. B. says they were assistants to the apostles during their life time. See p. 44. Mr. B. even proves that the evangelists did serve the apostles. See page 44, 45, 46. And yet he says, "they bore the same relation to the primitive church, that the bishops of the Methodist church do to their church.” P. 46. Now the Bishops are over the elders, and the evangelist, according to Mr. B. is the same as Bishop, and therefore is over the elders; yet they served the apostles; and this is the reason given by Mr. B. why a deacon is inferior to elders. Who does not see that this is strange reasoning? But after all, it is but a supposition, that they were appointed to serve the apostles; and one may suppose any thing. But unfortunately for this supposition, we are told expressly, Acts vi. for what purpose they were appointed, and nothing is said about serving the apostles.

His second argument is founded on the words found in I. Tim. ii. "Likewise must the deacons be grave.... For they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” P. 14. Now, if any man can see in these words, that a deacon, who is raised to the ministry of the word, is as a minister inferior to an elder, he inust have singular powers of vision. These are Mr. B's two arguments to prove that ministers called deacons are inferior to ministers called elders. Must not a man be driven to the last shift, who would rely on such arguments to prove that there is superiority and inferiority in point of office in the ministers of the gospel?

In the 2d chapter, Mr. Bangs undertakes to prove that bishops and elders or presbyters are one and the same office. He says bishops in the days of Ignatius, instead of resembling the bishops of our day, were more like the stated pastors of Presbyterian congregations, or the stated elders of the Methodist Episcopal Church. P. 24. All that Mr. B. says in this chapter respecting elders and bishops being the same order, and their having a right to ordain ministers, is correct, and well proved, and agrees substantially with what is advanced in the dialogues on these points. But there are one or two things in this chapter, in which I am constrained to differ from Mr. B. He says there is a coincidence between the practice of the primitive and that of the Methodist Episcopal church, in respect to the office and work of their elders or presbyters.” P. 30. In the primitive church, the presbyter or elder was the only minis ter except those whose office was extraordinary and temporary.--But in the Methodist church, presbyters is one order, among several other orders. In the primitive church, the presbyter had the highest ministerial authority; there were no ministers above him none below him. Not so in the Methodist church. The elder is neither the highest nor the lowest office. Then the coincidence or resemblance between the primitive church and the Methodist church fails in this office, as well as in the office of deacon.

A second thing exceptionable in this chapter, is, that presbyters have the power to consecrate a minister superior to themselves. P. 42. This is a strange sentiment. Can a stream rise higher than its fountain? Can a man or body of men impart more authority and power to another, than they possess themselves? This mistaken sentiment is essential to the Methodist church. For at the commencement of that church, it had no bishop, and the first bishop was ordained by the Rev. John Wesley, who was himself only a presbyter in the church of England. But something like proof must be found, and Mr. Bangs fixes on Acts xiii. for that proof. Let us examine the passage. “Now there were in the church, that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas and Simeon, that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul, and as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them, and when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia.' This is the passage on which Mr. B. rests the assertion, that presbyters have power to consecrate mi. nisters superior to themselves, and says, “St. Paul was ordained by a body of elders.” Page 42.

Page 42. The celebrated Thomes Scott, who was an Episcopalian, says, “The prophets and teachers, in laying their hands on them, with fasting and prayer, acted by immediate orders from the Holy Spirit; thus giving a public testimony of their assurance of their divine appointment to the service, and expressing fervent desires for their success in it. Accordingly in the next verse, they are said to have been sent forth by the Holy Ghost.Barnabas and Saul had for a considerable time been ministers of the word; so that this imposition of hands, could not be for the purpose of “daining them; nor does it appear that any spiritual gift, or new authority, was conferred by it. St. Paul was an apostle not by man,” &c. His apostolical office could not then be conferred at this time; but his appointment by the Lord Jesus bimself as the apostle of the Gentiles, might be thus publicly acknowledged, in the principal church of the Gentile converts.” This is a rational and satisfactory explanation.

In the Sd chapter, Mr. B. takes up the office of evangelist. says the “evangelists were the immediate successors of the apostles.” P. 42. “And after their (apostles) death, these evangelists succeeded them in the government of the church; and this is the order of ministers, who in after days were denominated bishops.” P. 44. “This order of ministers bore the same relation to tire primitive church, that the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal church do to their church. The most material difference is the name, and certainly the mere name alters not the nature of the thing." P. 46—7.

If, as Mr. B. alleges, Evangelists were the immediate successors of the apostles, then the apostolic office still continues in the church. He who is the successor of a governor, is himself a governor; he who is the successor of a king, is himself a king; and he who is the successor of an apostle, is himself an apostle. But we have proved in the dialogues, that the office of apostle was extraordinary, and temporary. If the reader will be at the trouble to turn back to the place where this subject is discussed in the dialogues, he will see the Scriptures referred to which state the qualifications of an apostle, and he will also see that it was impossible for any one to be an apostle after the generation died in which the Saviour rose from the dead. Then if the apostolic office was extraordinary, and necessarily temporary, it was impossible there should be successors to the apostles in point of office and authority. Of course Mr. B's great and only argument for an order of bishops superior to presbyters, falls to the ground. And the Methodist church'is without any scriptural warrant for their different orders or grades of ministers. Notwithstanding all Mr. B's ingenuity, he has utterly failed to produce any thing like the shadow of proof, that episcopacy. as now understood and practised, has any foundation in the New Testament, or the practice of the apostles. Mr. B. says, page 70, "It is hardly necrssary to observe, that from these small beginnings, and this gradual augmentation of episcopal power, grew that frightful authority which was finally concentrated in the pontiff of the Ronnish church. So dangerous is it to depart, in the smallest degree, from

the simplicity and purity of primitive christianity. When once the mind of man, ever fruitful in experiments, especially when they flatter his pride and ambition, breaks loose from the restraints of Scripture authority, one cannot tell where it will stop.” Most true; and for this very reason, many stand aloof from the Methodist church.

In chapter ninth, page 142, Mr. B. speaking of the apostles and elders who assembled at Jerusalem, omits the “brethren,” (Acts xv. 23) in whose name that decree passed, as much as in the name of the apostles and elders. Yet Mr. B. has the confidence to say, “What. ever may be pleaded from the usages of other churches in favor of associating lay members with the body of elders in making rules of discipline for the government of the church, it is certain, I think, that no precedent for this practice can be found in the holy Scriptures.” Did Mr. B. suppose his readers never had, nor ever would read the 15th chapter of the Acts? This part of sacred history, stands in direct opposition to his assertion.

In page 145, Mr. B. says, "every part of our government is elective.” But who are the voters? Are they the private members of the church? No! No! Who then? The reverend clergy. Yes, and the Pope is elected by his reverend cardinals. Will it satisfy the people of these United States, to tell them, “You ought to be content with the government, for although we the clergy rule you, and you

have no voice or vote for your rulers, yet we among ourselves choose who shall be greatest among us?”

In page 143, Mr. B. tells us of “a majority of votes.” Votes of whom, Mr. Bangs? The clergy. Yet there are two exceptions to this; for Mr. B. immediately adds, "except a class leader,” and slips down in a note, “Unless we also except a presiding elder.” I can suppose that Mr. B. had so much republicanism, from his being an American, that he secretly wished this note would be overlooked.

In page 145, Mr. B. tells us, that elders compose the General Conference. The laity are jostled out of every Conference; and in the trae spirit of Episcopacy, not only the laity are jostled out of the only Conference that makes laws, but all the orders of ministers except the higher dignitaries.

After travelling through nine chapters of this writer, disappointed almost at every page, I at length arrive at the tenth, entitled, "Privileges of the members of our church.” Here I was all attention, wondering what privileges could be given to a people denied the right of having representatives in all conferences, or of choosing their own officers, or their own pastors; and of having a vote in any

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