« AnteriorContinuar »
Clemens Alexandrinus mentions, a nga 70xce@odpeck, first seat, in each presby
tery, and although he mentions presbyters, bishops and deacons, yet he shows there were but two orders.—Tertullian supports Justin's description of a eucharist and proves an antistes or president in the presbytery of each church; calls this highest priest the bishop, and affirms his right to grant baptism. He makes a succession of such bishops from the apostles in the first churches a test of the orthodox faith which the heretics could not furnish.
No alteration appears in the offices of the church during the second century, unless with the change of president, agoko7w5, for exisxoros bishop, presbyters began to act by his appointment, or in his presence. Though not in writers hitherto examined, some traces of it are in the two assigned to this section; who lived in both centuries.
Titus Flavius Clemens is called Atheniensis because educated at Athens; Alexandrinus, because instructed in the catechetical school of Pantænus, and a presbyter of the church at Alexandria. The preceptor of Origin, Alexander of Jerusalem, and others, he lived till the reign of Alexander Severus. He wrote an Admonition to the Greeks, The Pedagogue, Stromata, and What rich man can be saved? He had a leaning to Gentile ethics, and the merit of works. On future punishments he is erroneous.
Church officers are mentioned incidentally; "For as much as we are shepherds, roqueves agulev, who govern agonyovuzvou, the churches, after the example of the good shepherd, and guard the sheep.". This pastoral office was that of the presbyter, for he was such. In strict accordance he speaks of the presbyter, as blessing with the imposition of hands. “Upon whom will the
a Pedagogue, Lib. i. p. 99.
presbyter, neeoßvtegos, impose his hand, and whom will he bless!" b This ascription of blessing to presbyters supposes them of one kind and clerical.
After citing from the epistle of Paul ten passages of practical duties, suited to various classes, he observes; "numerous other precepts also, directed to select characters, have been written, in the sacred books, some to presbyters agoBulegous, some to bishops, and some to deacons, and others to widows.” e “If presbyters be not here taken appellatively, the language makes a threefold discrimination, presbyters, bishops and deacons. It is possible that the author, in these precepts given from the New Testament, follows the language of the epistle to Titus, in which the same order is named, presbyters and bishops. (Ch. i. 5. 6. 7.) That there were but two orders, (saxova) presbyters and deacons, he expressly and repeatedly shows; and that there was a πρωτοκαθεδρια Or first seat, in each presbytery, he also asserts; the meaning therefore of the passage is obvious.
If from the circumstance, that this writer never enumerated deacons before presbyters, because an inferior order, it may be fairly inferred, that the collocation of bishops after presbyters, in this sentence, evinces no inferiority in presbyters, we may
permitted to argue from the same circumstance, that he had no idea that presbyters were mere laymen. Whether, in this passage, ageoßulegais was intended only of those who presided over the rest of the bishops, or vice versa, lay presbyters are equally, and wholly omitted.
In the numerous precepts addressed by the Scriptures to various characters, neither this author nor any other, has ever found a charge directed to lay presbyters.
Writing of marriage, he decides, that each man should be “the husband of one wife, whether he
b Pedagogue, Lib. iii. p. 248.
be a presbyter, or a deacon, &c.” Xqu ageoßveegos no xque dlaxovos.d
The word presbyter being substituted in this direction, for bishop, used in Paul's epistle, and by himself in two other references to the same duty, proves that Clement understood the same by bishop and presbyter, and could not have intended an inferior, or lay elder. And if the promiscuous use of bishop and presbyter can demonstrate a parity in the clerical, it must be equally effectual to exclude an inferior order.
In another place he observes; “That man is in fact a presbyter, age oBulegos, of the church and a true minister, diaxovos, of the counsel of God, who practices and teaches the things of the Lord; deemed righteous, not because ordained of men nor because a presbyter, but because a righteous man, he is numbered in the presbytery. And if here on earth he be not honoured with the first seat, πρωτοκαθεδρια μη τιμηθη he shall sit down on the twenty four thrones, judging the people, as John represents it in the Apocalypse.” This writer does not distinguish the presiding presbyter by the name Algoko7ws, the word erloxotos having begun to take its place, nevertheless the first implied other seats of the presbyters; and the first seat on a bench of presbyters is occupied by a presbyter, with no less certainty than the last. This president called agorotus in the New Testament, is henceforth denominated erloxoros without any authorised diversity in order. he says; “Seeing that in the church, there are promotions of bishops, presbyters, deacons, agoxorai ExcOXORWV πρεσβύθερων διακονων, I suppose they are semblances of angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those, who live after the example of the apostles, in the perfection of righteousness, according to the gospel. These, the apostle writes, being raised
up in the clouds, daxovnoɛw, attend as deacons at the first, afterwards they are associated with the pres
In the same page,
d Strom. Lib. iii. 464.
e 1 Tim. iii. 2.
bytery, ageoßulaçıq, according to their proficiency Agoxoanv, in glory; for glory rises above glory, until they shall increase to a perfect man.
This writer thought that the Saviour preached the gospel to departed spirits in hell: and believed, that future punishments were restorative. To the same hypothesis may be attributed his opinion of the value of the righteousness of the saints, both in this world and in the next, which is here described as measuring their proficiency in glory. His first comparison of the orders in the church, is unto those of the angels, of whom it has been remarked, there are but two, archangels and angels. He supposes also a discrimination in the next world between the glory of deacons, and of the presbytery; But although he names bishops, presbybyters, and deacons on earth distinctly, he considered bishops and presbyters, as constituting the same presbytery, not differing in order; otherwise his comparison has failed. Deacons are here also represented as entering into the presbytery, without an intermediate order. Clemens has consequently assigned no place to lay elders, either in the church militant, or triumphant. Having spoken of an instructive, and an obediential service, he says; “In like manner also with respect to the church, the presbyters maintain the part which renders men better, Ber7ww7ıxmv eixova, and the deacons the obediential, úrnge?ixnu. Both these offices, ταυτας αμφω τας διακονιας, do the angels perform to God, according to the economy of earthly things.”i Thus again he expressly describes two, and but two orders in the church, presbyters and deacons; the former to make men better, the latter to aid in a subordinate department.
In this author we find a presbytery and deacons only, which is as forcible an exclusion of a third order, whether superior or intermediate, as can be reasonably expected from a writer who had no knowledge of a third.
b Strom. Lib. vi. p. 667. i Strom. Lib. vii. p.700. Some render Bortimenny, dignified, others " quæ facit meliores."
In his “What rich man can be saved?”k Clemens relates that John the Apostle, observing a young man and turning to the bishop who presided over all, eni hadi to καθεστώς προβλεψας επισκοπή, committed him to his care in the presence of the church, eni ens exxanovas, who received him του δεχομενου. John is then said to have returned, after repeating the charge, to Ephesus. And the presbyter taking home, ο δε πρεσβύτερος αναλαβων οικαδε, the young man that had been committed to his care, nourished, educated, and lost him. Here we have Clemens, no doubt in the language of his day, as it had been in that of the apostles, expressly denominating the same person both a bishop and a presbyter. Also John, returning, is represented to have addressed him as a bishop, “ ERcOXONE ; return to us your deposit.” It thus
appears, that a successor of the last apostle, and by John himself styled a bishop, was notwithstanding a presbyter.
The sum of the testimony of Clemens, the most learned Christian in his age, is that there was one order only of officers in the church, above that of the deacons. He has not only not named subordinate, or lay presbyters, but has in the enumerations and decriptions, excluded the possibility of the existence of such an order in his day.
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, was born at Carthage, of a Roman family; his father being a centurion under a pro-consul of Africa. Educated in the learning of the Greeks and Romans, and becoming a Christian before the close of the second century, he flourished chiefly in the third, and preached at Carthage many years. Offended at the unkind treatment, or at the irregularities of the orthodox, he preferred the severities of the Montanists. His language is harsh and obscene. Speaking in his apology of the worship of Christian assemblies, he observes; "Ap
k Ch. xlii. p. 87.