« PreviousContinue »
trine of a church ; so that in every place in which such a Christian assembly is known and recognised, there immediately arises the ability, nay, the obligation, of appointing to the ministry. Nor is it necessary that this faculty or ability should be propagated through the bands of Bishops ; least of all is this needful when these episcopal officials themselves refuse to exercise their functions, which, on the other hand, they abuse for the establishment of errors and of unjust domination. A concession sufficiently ample therefore was offered to the Popish Bishops at the Diet of Augsburgh, when the Protestants avowed their willingness to receive episcopal ordination, provided the Bishops would show themselves ready to employ that mode of ordination in a right manner, to promote those important and substantial parts of ministerial duty, the preaching of God's word and the administration of the sacraments, according to the form which had been divinely prescribed in the Scriptures; and would also consent to omit and discard all those innovations which had been introduced into the church through the rude and barbarous customs of preceding ages, and which had become intolerable to the consciences of Protestants. But when they were unable to obtain any such concession from the Popish Bishops, who of their own accord thus deprived themselves by ceasing to exercise their episcopal functions, the churches were compelled to resort to their original right, which, as I have just related, Luther deduced from the sayings of Christ and of his Apostles, to tranquillize the consciences of the Protestants : for in regard to their public and political rights, they were in a state of perfect safety, when, at the Pacification of Nuremburgh, they had obtained the continuance of their Reformation, until a General Council should otherwise determine.Seckendorf's History of Lutheranism, vol. ii., pp. 59–61.
“Luther's taking upon him, in conjunction with other Presbyters, to consecrate Bishops, which he did on more occasions than one, would naturally be made the subject of much animadversion. I can offer no better apology for him than that made by Bishop Atterbury, in his ' Answer to some Considerations on the Spirit of M. Luther, and the Original of the Reformation, [written by Obadiah Walker, Master of University College, and] printed at Oxford, 1687: _That he made new Bishops, we admit; not out of choice, but necessity; following, as he thought, in this case, the practice of the church, mentioned in the well-known passage of St. Austin,-In Alexandria, et per totam Ægyptum, si desit Episcopus, consecrat Presbyter.'”—Scott's Continuation of Milner, vol. i.,
NICHOLAS AMSDORF. In the year 1541, on the death of Philip Count Palatine, Bishop of Neuburgh, (or Naumbourg,) the Popish Chapter of that collegiate church elected Julius Pflugius into the episcopal office. But the Elector of Saxony objected against that appointment, alleging that the Chapter had no power to act except with his consent; and accordingly he nominated our Amsdorf to the vacant see. Wherefore, on January 20th, 1542, in the city of Neuburgh-on-Saale, in the presence of the Elector J. Frederic, and of his brother J. Ernest, both Dukes of Saxony, this young man, of noble extraction and unmarried, was ordained Bishop by Luther, with whom were conjoined, in the imposition of hands, Nicholas Medler the Pastor of Neuburgh, George Spalatine the Pastor of Aldenburgh, and Wolfgang Steinius the Pastor of Weissenfels. In a book which Luther published soon afterwards, he defended this Protestant election and ordination; and produced reasons why Julius Pflugius, whom the Popish Chapter had constituted the Bishop elect, was on the contrary rejected by the church, and by the Senate and the patrons of the church. But this act of the Elector greatly exasperated the mind of the Emperor Charles V., which had previously been much alienated. Therefore, when Julius afterwards, at the Diet of Spires, complained to the Emperor of the personal injury which the Duke of Saxony had inflicted on him, Cæsar exhorted him to exercise patience some time longer; and added, “Thy cause shall be my cause.” Accordingly, six years afterwards, Pflugius was restored to his episcopal see by the victorious Charles. But Amsdorf filed to Magdeburgh ; which was, in the course of several succeeding years, the common asylum for most of those who had, on any account whatsoever, incurred the displeasure of the Emperor.—Melchior Adam's Lives of German Divines, pp. 69, 70.
JOIN BUGENHAGEN, A POMERANIAN. In the year 1537, Bugenhagen, then residing at Wirtemberg, was invited by Christian III., King of Denmark and Duke of Holstein, to frame a godly constitution for the promulgation of religious doctrine, for the decent observance of ecclesiastical rites, and for the formation and management of schools and colleges. Having accepted the invitation, during that visit he composed a small treatise in Latin, which comprised the model of ecclesiastical regimen. Many good men now wish to see this treatise extensively circulated, that the world may more generally know that form which was assumed by the churches, and the entire ecclesiastical government which obtained the approval of Luther and his colleagues. On that occasion, too, Bugenhagen offered up public
prayers, and conducted the whole of the coronation-service, when Christian III. was crowned King of Denmark, in Copenhagen the metropolis, on August 12th, being His Majesty's birth-day, in the presence of Albert I. Duke of Prussia, with his consort Her Royal Highness Princess Dorothea, who was the King's sister. In the same year, exactly a fortnight after the celebration of the coronation of His Majesty, seven Superintendents were ordained by Bugenhagen, in the cathedral of Copenhagen, as successors to the seven deprived Popish Bishops of the kingdom of Denmark. The King, and the States of the realm, imparted their sanction and approbation to the proceedings of the day, by honouring them with their presence. These Superintendents were empowered to discharge the necessary duties of the episcopal office, and became the authorized guardians and executors of all the ecclesiastical administration. At the same time he likewise pre-scribed the general course of lectures to be delivered in the University of Copenhagen ; and he directed the appointment of parochial Ministers throughout the two kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, their number being twenty-four thousand.-Melchior Adam's Lives of German Divines, p. 315.
Seckendorf has written a more minute account of the events which preceded this consecration of the Danish Superintendents or Bishops, by one who was himself only a Presbyter. But be blames the unnecessarily severe treatment which the Popish Bishops received from the new Monarch ; who, in the spirit of his unamiable contemporary, King Henry VIII. of England, and nearly at the same time, evinced a strong inclination to seize upon, and appropriate to his own purposes, the rich possessions and revenues of the Popish Church. The following is the conclusion of his narrative :
“ The functions of a Bishop had, till this year, been discharged much after the style of secular Princes, having assumed a display of pomp and state similar to that which distinguished the Popish Prelates of Germany. But now the episcopal office was completely abolished and abrogated, amidst the acclamations of the people, and in compliance with a decree of the States of the kingdom. The revenues arising from the palaces, towns, castles, and territories, which had formerly been appendages to the various bishoprics, were now brought into the public treasury. The enumeration of their value may be seen in Helduaderus. In that assembly of the States was crowned King Christian, who is styled the Third of those who bore that name. The coronation service was conducted by John Bugenhagen, a native of Pomerania, who had been specially invited for the occasion from Wirtemberg. He wrote in Latin the formulary of ecclesiastical ordination for the whole realm, which is highly commended by Chytræus, in his fifteenth book. At the request of the King and of the States, on August 26th, in the cathedral church of Copenhagen, he also supplied the vacant sees of the seven deprived Bishops, by consecrating seven Divines as Superintendents, though they are likewise usually addressed under the title of Bishops.* Such was the termination then given in Denmark to the arrogance, pride, luxury, and bitter hatred towards all evangelical professors, which the Popish hierarchy had pertinaciously exhibited. Yet it scarcely admits of a doubt, that, had those seven Bishops pursued moderate counsels, and yielded to reformation, by allowing the public preaching of the Gospel, and the alteration and correction of certain Popish ceremonies, they might have retained possession of their dignities and rich emoluments. Luther is said to have been much displeased with that severe and sweeping suppression of bishoprics, and to have given advice to the King to preserve entire some of that church-property which is known under the name of canonries; and to appropriate the profits which they yielded to the comfortable maintenance of such learned men as might be thus enabled to render valuable services both to Church and State." (Page 242.)
Hence it is undeniable that the Episcopacy of the Protestant Churches of Germany and Denmark had a Presbyterian origin, like that which Mr. Wesley gave to his societies in America. Those who condemn him for his ordination of Dr. Coke must for the same reason condemn the Reformers of the Lutheran Churches, as well as the Presbyters and Bishops of the Alexandrian Church for two hundred years.
Nor has the Church of England, even in modern times, absolutely withheld her sanction from the sacred ministrations of men who had only received Presbyterian ordination. The venerable Swartz, who was employed by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, as one of its Missionaries in the East Indies, being himself a Presbyter, ordained several of his spiritual children for the holy ministry; and the men thus ordained were acknowledged by that Society as accredited Ministers of the Lord Jesus.
• Lord Molesworth says, in his celebrated “ Account of Denmark, as it was in the Year 1692,”—“ There are six Superintendents in Denmark, who take it very kindly to be called Bishops and My Lord. There are also four in Norway. These have no temporalities, keep no ecclesiastical courts, have no cathedrals, with Prebends, Canons, Deans, Sub-Deans, &c., but are only primi inter pares, having the rank above the inferior Clergy of their province, and the inspection into their doctrine and manners. (Page 161.)